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Let me start by both thanking everyone (and I do mean everyone) for their comments, critiques, and even an occasional “bravo” (I appreciate that, especially given the effort that Derrik himself makes to inform people about Tijuana). I’d also like to encourage some of my colleagues from Tijuana or Baja California that may be reading this to include comments in Spanish, too — I’ll do my best to digest them in English for the other readers of voiceofsandiego.org.
I say that last comment, in part, because of a very thoughtful email sent to me by one of Tijuana’s business leaders, suggested that I mention some additional unique characteristics of Tijuana: [my translation of his comments]
“. … It (uniquely) has a Chinese Consulate, not to mention direct flights from Tijuana to Shanghai; direct flights to Narita (near Tokyo, Japan), opening up those business opportunities, and supporting the corporate linkages with many of the nearly 600 maquiladoras (a concentration of manufacturing not found elsewhere in Southern California, and few other places in Mexico). In all: combining our strengths and talents, we are a better region, and share the same air, the same water (Colorado River), and the same climate. For this reason, our Economic Development Council (DEITAC) promotes ‘One Region.’”
A good vision, in part because at its heart, it’s actually true. Most of us just have a habit of building up the walls between these two sister cities — sometimes for what might be legitimate reasons; more often, probably because we buy into the “map mentality” of drawing a line between our two countries, and putting detailed roads and streets on one side (thus giving it a sense of reality and place), and putting an empty area on the other side of the line and calling it “Mexico”.
But getting to Jack Griffith’s comment — let me say I actually would not call you cynical. You are bringing up legitimate points, in fact, in that I would agree supporting Gov. José Guadalupe Osuna’s efforts are only part of a solution, and “PR” isn’t going to solve any problems — that’s why we’ve tried to emphasize providing facts and data so that people don’t fall into broad generalizations (like associating Tijuana’s situation with Afghanistan — perhaps it’s easy to try to draw such a parallel, but I don’t know that comparing a country with a city is accurate, nor have I seen side-by-side data to show that there is any real point of comparison. Compare it to the Mafia. … and that’s probably a better fit.
And let me take the example Jack gives about the attack on the PGJE offices in Tijuana as an example of the “need for context” to such crimes: I was in Tijuana that very evening (described in my first blog post). Not only that, I drove within two blocks of that location following my meeting. The attack occurred later (in the early-AM hours, when most visitors to Tijuana aren’t there), it occurred at a location that few US visitors would ever be near, and it was another example of how the vast majority of the violence occurring is either law enforcement-versus-narco, or narco-on-narco. It doesn’t mean that the violence doesn’t occur, but it does give another example of how we shouldn’t over-dramatize what’s going on and apply it to “all of Tijuana”, nor to “all of Mexico.” Go visit CECUT, go visit Avenida Revolucion, go visit some of the great restaurants there — and (again) the worst thing you’ll be likely to ever see is a 60-to-90 minute border wait (usually).
On the idea of “border militarization,” I’m not sure if that comment is referencing Tijuana (which already [thankfully] has seen federal military troops assisting law enforcement), or the U.S. side — but I’ll assume it’s in reference to the United States. I think such comments, while perhaps well-meaning, again do not actually create any solution. Having armed U.S. troops at the border won’t stop the battles between the drug cartels in Tijuana — so why is it ever presented as a solution? It’s not. And, again, referencing the facts that there are cities in the U.S. that have much higher violence levels, I’d suggest we consider applying martial law there before we tell our neighbors in Mexico that such an action should be done in their country.
Keep those comments coming!