What Seattle Washington and Monterrey Mexico Have in Common

The increased gun violence in Seattle is tragic.  Several national media outlets have focused their attention upon the rising rate of homicides in this city.   As of this June,  21 murder victims have been counted, the same number as all of last year for a city that ranks in the top 25 in population in our country.

Just last week in Seattle there were six killings including one crime in which the perpetrator murdered four of his victims in a coffee shop, shot another in an attempted car jacking, then shot himself as the Seattle police caught up with him.

Quoting a woman who lived in a neighborhood where one of these Seattle homicides took place, an assistant police chief told a reporter that, “…I’m genuinely afraid, I’m afraid and I don’t want to be, in my neighborhood.  (Kirk Johnson, “Wave of Gun Violence Challenges Seattles’s Notion of Security”, NYT, 6/3/12 ) No doubt there are many other Seattle residents who feel the same way.

There are, as well, Washingtonians who are equally apprehensive along with residents of other large American cities who observe what is happening in Seattle, then pray their own cities do not suffer a similar plague.  New Yorkers, for example, on the one hand relish their falling homicide rate but, at the same time, weigh it against the criticism that minorities have suffered major setbacks in their rights and protections under the law.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise to state the obvious: just examining one violent event in a Mexican border city compared to Seattle, Washington, suggests the psychological state not only of many Mexican citizens, but those Americans along the U.S.-Mexico border.

In fact, of course, this is a population with a shared culture, history, and politics along our border with Mexico.  What separates these families, neighborhoods, and other social institutions one from the other is a wall that cannot, regardless of its fortification, shut out fear.

One violent event worth remembering in Mexico, and there are many, many others which do not make the front pages of our media, is the horrendous murder of 52 Mexican citizens in the city of Monterrey.  These residents were burned to death by an intentional fire set by thugs at the Royale Casino on August,24, 2011. The majority of the victims were women and the elderly (Randal C. Archibold, “Arson Fire Kills 52 in Casino in Mexico”, NYT, 9/25/11).

Simply put, Seattle’s annual number of homicides to date pails in comparison to this horrific event in Monterrey.

This is one of only a number of massacres of the Mexican citizenry that have occurred in this same city as the drug cartels and their thugs battle over drug turf and spinoff criminal activities including kidnapping, extortion, and money laundering.  Another of many such events already forgotten by most Americans involved a shoot-out on a major Monterrey highway during rush hour.

It requires no imagination to determine the mindset of those honest citizens in Mexico who are both the observers and the victims to the gun violence which has dominated Mexico for the last several years.  And by extension, just as other Washingtonians and Americans worry about the Seattle homicides, so Americans along all the U.S.-Mexico border grow increasingly fearful of the violence in Mexico.  How could it be otherwise?

There is no real measurement of this fear, only the assertion by the Obama administration that our border cities are “safe”, safer even than most other American cities.

Fear knows no international boundaries and it continues, regardless of claims by both political parties, to spread and intensify through our borderland communities.  Isn’t it about time to stop pretending that the violence in Mexico has no impact on citizens who live along our southern border?  By pretending there is no impact, we eliminate the possibility of facing the problem and resolving it.

All this so that both Democrats and Republicans can vie for our votes in November without having to acknowledge the impact of rising drug-related violence in Mexico.  In places like Monterrey.  Just like Seattle but much, much worse.

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