Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Great Moments in Gringo Solipsism

Just when you thought there was nothing new to say about the Mexican Drug War bloodbath – 7,700 deaths last year, 2,600 in Juarez alone, and 2010 looks like it will only get worse -- the Houston Chronicle manages to find a fresh angle: “American Murder Toll in Mexico Continues to Climb”:

Preliminary statistics and other sources show 2009 was by far the deadliest year for U.S. citizens in Mexico since the Department of State first began releasing international American homicide statistics in 2002.

Final 2009 data is not yet available, according to Jeffrey Galvin, a spokesman at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. But by June of last year, 37 murders already had been added to the State Department registry, compared with 50 in all of 2008 in Mexico. Dozens of additional homicides have been reported by the U.S. and Mexican media in the last half of 2009.

Dozens, on top of 37…so at least 61. Of course, with Drug War deaths up at least 50% in Mexico last year, a bump in the dead-gringo count shouldn’t be surprising, but then no story about Mexican mayhem is ever too small for the Chron’s front page (like this one linking a whopping 0.6% of the city’s homicides to Mexican gangs).

Ironically, it’s conceivable that some of these dead Americans were killed by guns bought in Houston:

High-powered guns purchased at Houston-area stores by a Gulf Cartel cell and smuggled across the border for the syndicate's bloody warfare have been traced to at least 55 killings in Mexico, including the deaths of police officers, civilians and gangsters, federal agents said Thursday.

The recent tracking of firearms is the result of a four-month anti-cartel operation focused largely on Houston, which the federal government contends is the No. 1 spot in the United States for buying guns that later are used in underworld massacres and other crimes in Mexico.

Today’s story is a follow up to reporter Lise Olsen’s earlier report, Caught in the Chaos!!!: More than 200!!! U.S. Citizens!!! KILLED!!!! In Mexico [boo, hiss!] Since ’04!!!!, from which we learned that the 15 million Americans who cross the border every year manage to get themselves killed at a rate of about one a week, with 2/3 of the dead being the kind of people who cross the border to do stuff that can get you killed in the first place. Today’s story, like the earlier one, makes a subtle nod at the murkiness of its own thesis:

Across Mexico, some U.S. citizen victims, like Father Uresti, of Austin, were slaughtered by people they knew. But most perished in the violent conflicts between warring drug cartels and occupying government military forces, press accounts and other records show. Most murders remain unsolved. Some, like Harrison, had criminal records in the United States....

Most Americans' murders were reported in or near Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez and Nuevo Laredo, statistics show. All three areas remain dangerous for residents and visitors — especially after dark and in nightclub zones, based on Mexican and U.S. statistics, U.S. government advisories and media reports.

It’s probably too much to ask that an American newspaper point out that these three cities are by far the most dangerous in Mexico precisely because they border the U.S., but they could at least mention that, y’know, hanging out in Juarez is just a really, really bad idea – worse than Disney World, even.

Meanwhile, the murder rate in Houston (population 2 million) dropped slightly, to a mere 285 murders in 2009. (we believe that number includes the 1.4 murders statistically attributable to Mexican gangs there). We don’t have any stats for the number of Mexicans murdered in the U.S. last year (help us out in comments if you can), but at least 750 died while trying to enter the U.S. last year - 58% of them women and children. We’re guessing they were coming north for more benign reasons than most of the gringo dead were going south.

1 comment:

TonyBaja said...

Nice article. It's a little confusing on what is accurate and what is not. I just visited on blog who claimed crime is down in baja while i visited another who proclaimed its the worst in years.

Thanks for calling the media out & at least asking that they report it correctly.