Archive for December 18th, 2007

cross-border bullying

U.S. Border Patrol agents on the Mexico-U.S. border are apparently the frequent targets of rocks, bricks, and bottles hurled over the reprehensible walls and fences on the border. Their response? Firing tear gas and pepper spray canisters, which are wide effect weapons, into the neighborhoods of shanties where innocent people are just trying to survive. From the AP/NY Times article:

Esther Arias Medina, 41, fled her shanty in Tijuana with her 3-week-old grandson last week in the midst of an attack. The boy had begun coughing, Ms. Arias said, after smoke seeped through the walls of the three-room home, which she shares with six others.

“We don’t deserve this,” she said. “The people who live here don’t throw rocks. Those are people who come from the outside. But we’re paying the price.”

Witnesses in Ms. Arias’s neighborhood described eight attacks since August that involved tear gas or pepper spray, some that forced residents to evacuate.

The Border Patrol claims that they have to protect themselves from these “attacks,” but come on – is the collateral damage worth it? I know that these rocks and bricks can really hurt someone, but frankly, I can’t seem to work up much sympathy for pinche Border Patrol agents. Hell, if I lived on the other side of one of those damn walls and had to look at those american brutos every day, I’d probably be throwing stones at them, too. Yeah yeah, individual agents aren’t necessarily the bad guys, yadda yadda, fuck that noise. They’re the little bully agents of the biggest bully of them all, a country that owns the lion’s share of the responsibility for the economic conditions that created those shanty towns in the first place. It’s really a David and Goliath type situation, even right down to the weapons of choice:

Mexico’s acting consul general in San Diego, Ricardo Pineda Albarrán, has insisted that United States authorities stop firing onto Mexican soil. Mr. Pineda met with Border Patrol officials last month after the agency fired tear gas into Mexico. The agency defended that action, saying agents were being hit with a hail of ball bearings from slingshots in Mexico.

Now, the US claims that the Mexican authorities aren’t doing anything about the rock-throwing and that they therefore need to act to protect themselves, but isn’t it weird that they can just fire into another country like that? Much less with chemical weapons that are banned from use in warfare? (Funny, huh, that tear gas and pepper spray can be used fairly indiscriminately for civilian law enforcement but can’t be used in an actual war.) I mean, it’s not like Border Patrol can just plod on into Mexico and start fucking shit up; why, then, are they allowed to fuck shit up from this side of the border?

United States officials say the new tactics may spare lives. In March, an agent shot and killed a 20-year-old Mexican man whose arm was cocked; that fatality occurred in Calexico, Calif., where attacks with stones have soared. And two years ago, an agent fatally shot a stone thrower at the San Diego-Tijuana border.

“Hey, Mexicans, wouldya stop complaining already? We could be shooting you instead, you know!” Just… wow.