Category Archives: Politricks

Drug War = Definition of Insanity

The 50-year US war on drugs has been a total failure, with hundreds of billions of dollars flushed down the drain and our civil liberties whittled away fighting a war that cannot be won. The 20 year “war on terror” has likewise been a gigantic US government disaster: hundreds of billions wasted, civil liberties scorched, and a world far more dangerous than when this war was launched after 9/11.

So what to do about two of the greatest policy failures in US history? According to President Trump and many in Washington, the answer is to combine them!

Last week Trump declared that, in light of an attack last month on US tourists in Mexico, he would be designating Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations. Asked if he would send in drones to attack targets in Mexico, he responded, “I don’t want to say what I’m going to do, but they will be designated.” The Mexican president was quick to pour cold water on the idea of US drones taking out Mexican targets, responding to Trump’s threats saying “cooperation, yes; interventionism, no.”

Trump is not alone in drawing the wrong conclusions from the increasing violence coming from the drug cartels south of the border. A group of US Senators sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging that the US slap sanctions on the drug cartels in response to the killing of Americans.

Do these Senators really believe that facing US sanctions these drug cartels will close down and move into legitimate activities? Sanctions don’t work against countries and they sure won’t work against drug cartels.

A recent editorial in the conservative Federalist publication urges President Trump to launch “unilateral, no-permission special forces raids” into Mexico like the US did into Pakistan to fight ISIS and al-Qaeda!

I am sure the military-industrial complex loves this idea! Another big war to keep Washington rich at the expense of the rest of us. And the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force can even be trotted out to fight this brand new “terror war”!

Perhaps unintentionally, however, this sudden push to look at the Mexican drug cartels as we did ISIS and al-Qaeda does make sense. After all, the rise of the drug cartels and the rise of the terror cartels have both been due to bad US policy. It was the US invasion of Iraq based on neocon lies that led to the creation of ISIS and expansion of al-Qaeda in the Middle East and it was the US war on drugs that led to the rise of the drug cartels in Mexico.

Here’s another suggestion: maybe instead of doing the same things that do not work we might look at the actual cause of the problems. The US war on drugs makes drugs enormously profitable to Mexican suppliers eager to satisfy a ravenous US market. A study last year by the CATO Institute found that with the steady decriminalization and legalization of marijuana across the United States, the average US Border Patrol agent seized 78 percent less marijuana in fiscal year 2018 than in FY 2013.

Instead of declaring war on Mexico, perhaps the answer to the drug cartel problem is to take away their incentives by ending the war on drugs. Why not try something that actually works?

Baja Governor Kiko Vega Cashes In

Bajadock: 2 billion pesos = 100 Million US Dollars.  That’s a whole lot of false invoices for taco catering and party decorations.  Will any result come of this investigation?


Mexicali, November 20.- Governor Jaime Bonilla Valdez said Wednesday that the embezzlement of state finances could reach 2 billion pesos, once the review of the accounts of his predecessor, PAN Francisco “Kiko” Vega de Lamadrid; He also warned that irregularities in the management of public resources could also involve the administrations of José Guadalupe Osuna Millán and Eugenio Elorduy Walther, also emanating from the PAN.

He said that they had already been working for several months for what he considered that the former state auditor Carlos Montejo Oceguera should have had results before, so after his resignation a file was made with which a complaint was filed for embezzlement and diversion of funds .

So far there is a record of a embezzlement of 1,200 million pesos counted between false invoices to companies that do not exist or others with addresses in the Federal District that resulted in abandoned houses that did business with the State Executive for 400 million pesos, He even said they found companies that registered on the same day they received the payment.

There are 40 companies that delivered false invoices, but there are more than 90 with other irregularities such as homelessness, the president said.

The governor of Baja California said the calculations are still being made but they estimate that the breakdown – corresponding to the years 2017 and 2018 – could reach 2 billion pesos since so far the 2019 documentation has not been able to be reviewed , so they hope to continue finding irregularities.

But not only that, after 30 years of government of a political party, the state became indebted without supervision and counterweight, so the investigation will include former governors José Guadalupe Osuna Millán and Eugenio Elorduy Walther, he said.

Regarding the complaint that was filed on Tuesday, he said that the crimes are so obvious that they could not hide them and explained that there are illegalities that border on the peculate, bribery, illicit enrichment, falsification of documents, abuse of authority, fraud, abuse of trust among others.

The head of the Executive indicated that at least three former governors were “kicking the boat” so they could be investigated by following the money route. The three previous presidents are the PANistas Francisco Vega de Lamadrid, José Guadalupe Osuna Millán and Eugenio Elorduy Walther.

Jaime Bonilla said that in the next few days he will present a list to integrate the anti-corruption prosecutor since this character would be in charge of following up on the investigation against past officials, Bonilla Valdez said.

The intention is that there is justice for this embezzlement, so that former governor Vega de Lamadrid is taken into account and paid with jail or with the assets he did illegally.

They did not justify indebtedness
On former governors Osuna Millán and Elorduy Walther said they will be investigated because the state debt is close to 33 billion pesos, but there was no development to justify that indebtedness.

Vega de Lamadrid received the government with a debt of 13 billion pesos, leaving it at almost 33 thousand, he explained, in addition to Osuna Millán also increased the liability by 6 billion.

With regard to former Governor Elorduy Walther, the amount of property he did during his administration will be investigated, including his family-owned buildings that are rented to the state government without being needed, Bonilla Valdez said.

CBP Violates 4th Amendment

Bajadock: Thanks to our intrepid reporter Juan del Norte for the following article.  We have been reporting on this random search and seizure practice by Customs and Border Patrol for years.  Dec 2017 article.

Wonder if I’ll be headed back to the hielera and ankle bracelet treatment on my next CBP visit for my critical articles.

FYI, I finally got my SENTRI pass renewed after 11.9 months of waiting.  Apparently the SENTRI office is overwhelmed with applications and renewals.  Perhaps they took their time investigating my food review of their Kraft Mac & Cheese offering at the San Ysidro detention area.

I takes a while for the lamestream media to catch up.  Here is today’s 15 Nov article on CBP’s electronic inspection violations in the LA Times. 12 Nov 2019

A court ruled Tuesday that the suspicionless search of travelers’ electronic devices without a warrant is unconstitutional. Seizing phoneslaptops and tablets at border points without reasonable suspicion violates the Fourth Amendment, according to the judgment. The Electronic Frontier Foundation called the ruling “an enormous victory for privacy.”

US border agents have had free rein to search through your digital devices, and they conducted more than 33,000 device searches in 2018 and 30,200 searches in 2017. The EFF filed a suit in September 2017 alongside the American Civil Liberties Union against the Department of Homeland Security agencies Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement on behalf of 11 people who allegedly had their phones and other devices searched without warrant at a US border.

“The court declares that the CBP and ICE policies for ‘basic’ and ‘advanced’ searches, as presently defined, violate the Fourth Amendment to the extent that the policies do not require reasonable suspicion that the devices contain contraband,” says the judgment, delivered in the United States District Court of Massachusetts.

With the ruling, reasonable suspicion is now required for both basic and advanced searches of electronic devices.

The ruling extends Fourth Amendment privacy protection to “millions of international travelers who enter the United States every year,” said Esha Bhandari, an attorney for the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project. “By putting an end to the government’s ability to conduct suspicionless fishing expeditions, the court reaffirms that the border is not a lawless place and that we don’t lose our privacy rights when we travel.”

Sophia Cope, EFF senior staff attorney, added that international travelers can now cross US borders without fear that the government will “ransack the extraordinarily sensitive information we all carry in our electronic devices.”

However, the court stopped short of ordering that the information taken from the digital devices be expunged.

CBP didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The ACLU also filed a civil complaint in April 2019, alleging that border control officers had violated an Apple employee’s rights as a US citizen by detaining him for an hour and demanding that he unlock his iPhone and Mac. In May, Democrat Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky introduced the Protecting Data at the Border Act, which if passed would also require border agents to obtain a warrant before searching Americans’ devices at borders.

Third World California

Bajadock: Our team has recently published some social/political editorials on challenges in Mexico.  When asked about which side of the political debate we stand, my answer is usually unsatisfying to the exasperated hyper politico advocate.  We enjoy the gift of political atheism when it comes to politicians. 

Instead of the faux outrage over marginal items broadcast daily in news media telenovelas, a suggestion for sanity might be to outline a handful(as in 4 or 5 only!) of major expectations you have from your government bureaucrats.  This “personal constitution” just might ease your blood pressure spikes when it comes to baked cakes, a political lie, fork&spoon control or polar bear water aerobics.

And please don’t call politicians “our leaders”.  These nincompoops can not lead land to the ocean. Nor a train from point A to point ?  

“Game show hosts” is one of my favorite song lyrics.

But, it is apparent that the state of California is rapidly deteriorating.  With more “social justice warriors” on the watch in California than anywhere else I have witnessed in the U.S., how can this be?


More than 2 million Californians were recently left without power after the state’s largest utility, Pacific Gas and Electric — which filed for bankruptcy earlier this year — preemptively shut down transmission lines in fear that they might spark fires during periods of high autumn winds.

Consumers blame the state for not cleaning up dead trees and brush, along with the utility companies for not updating their ossified equipment. The power companies in turn fault the state for so over-regulating utilities that they had no resources to modernize their grids.

Californians know that having tens of thousands of homeless in their major cities is untenable. In some places, municipal sidewalks have become open sewers of garbage, used needles, rodents and infectious diseases. Yet no one dares question progressive orthodoxy by enforcing drug and vagrancy laws, moving the homeless out of cities to suburban or rural facilities, or increasing the number of mental hospitals.

Taxpayers in California, whose basket of sales, gasoline and income taxes is the highest in the nation, quietly seethe while immobile on antiquated freeways that are crowded, dangerous and under nonstop makeshift repair.

Gas prices of $4 to $5 a gallon — the result of high taxes, hyper-regulation and green mandates — add insult to the injury of stalled commuters. Gas tax increases ostensibly intended to fund freeway expansion and repair continue to be diverted to the state’s failing high-speed rail project.

Residents shrug that the state’s public schools are among weakest in the nation, often ranking in the bottom quadrant in standardized test scores. Elites publicly oppose charter schools but often put their own kids in private academies.

Californians know that to venture into a typical municipal emergency room is to descend into a modern Dante’s Inferno. Medical facilities are overcrowded. They can be as unpleasant as they are bankrupting to the vanishing middle class that must face exorbitant charges to bring in an injured or sick child.

No one would dare to connect the crumbling infrastructure, poor schools and failing public health care with the non-enforcement of immigration laws, which has led to a massive influx of undocumented immigrants from the poorest regions of the world, who often arrive without fluency in English or a high-school education.

Stores are occasionally hit by swarming looters. Such Wild West criminals know how to keep their thefts under $950, ensuring that such “misdemeanors” do not warrant police attention. California’s permissive laws have decriminalized thefts and break-ins. The result is that San Francisco now has the highest property crime rate per capita in the nation.

Has California become premodern?

Millions of fed-up middle-class taxpayers have fled the state. Their presence as a stabilizing influence is sorely missed. About one-third of the nation’s welfare recipients live in California. Millions of poor newcomers require enormously expensive state health, housing, education, legal and law-enforcement services.

California is now a one-party state. Democrats have supermajorities in both houses of the legislature. Only seven of the state’s 53 congressional seats are held by Republicans. The result is that there is no credible check on a mostly coastal majority.

Huge global wealth in high-tech, finance, trade and academia poured into the coastal corridor, creating a new nobility with unprecedented riches. Unfortunately, the new aristocracy adopted mindsets antithetical to the general welfare of Californians living outside their coastal enclaves. The nobodies have struggled to buy high-priced gas, pay exorbitant power bills and deal with shoddy infrastructure — all of which resulted from the policies of the distant somebodies.

California’s three most powerful politicians — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Gov. Gavin Newsom — are all multimillionaires. Their lives, homes and privileges bear no resemblance to those of other Californians living with the consequences of their misguided policies and agendas.

The state’s elite took revolving-door entries and exits for granted. They assumed that California was so naturally rich, beautiful and well-endowed that there would always be thousands of newcomers who would queue up for the weather, the shore, the mountains and the hip culture.

Yet California is nearing the logical limits of progressive adventurism in policy and politics.

Residents carefully plan long highway trips as if they were ancient explorers charting dangerous routes. Tourists warily enter downtown Los Angeles or San Francisco as if visiting a politically unstable nation.

Insatiable state tax collectors and agencies are viewed by the public as if they were corrupt officials of Third World countries seeking bribes. Californians flip their switches unsure of whether the lights will go on. Many are careful about what they say, terrified of progressive thought police who seem more worried about critics than criminals.

Our resolute ancestors took a century to turn a wilderness into California. Our irresolute generation in just a decade or two has been turning California into a wilderness.


Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His latest book is The Savior Generals from BloomsburyBooks. You can reach him by e-mailing

If U.S. Invaded Mexico


I suppose that by now everyone has heard of Trump’s offer to send the American military to “wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth,” which he asserts can be done “quickly and effectively. “

Trump phrased this as an offer to help, not a threat to invade, which is reassuring. AMLO, Mexico’s president, wisely declined the offer.

While the President seems to have made the offer in good faith, he has little idea of Mexico, the military, or the cartels. The American military could not come close to wiping them off the face of the earth, much less effectively and quickly. Such an incursion would be a political and military disaster. The President needs to do some reading.

If AMLO were to invite the Americans into Mexico, he would be lynched. Few Americans are aware of how much the United States is hated in Latin America, and for that matter in most of the world. They don’t know of the long series of military interventions, brutal dictators imposed and supported, and economic rapine. Somoza, Pinochet, the Mexican-American War, detachment of Panama from Colombia, bombardment of Veracruz, Patton’s incursion–the list could go on for pages. The Mexican public would look upon American troops not as saviors but as invaders. Which they would be.

The incursion would not defeat the cartels, for several reasons that trump would do well to ponder. To begin with, America starts its wars by overestimating its own powers, underestimating the enemy, and misunderstanding the kind of war on which it is embarking. The is exactly what Trump seems to be doing.

He probably thinks of Mexicans as just gardeners and rapists and we have all these beautiful advanced weapons and beautiful drones and things with blinking lights. A pack of rapists armed with garden trowels couldn’t possibly be difficult to defeat by the US. I mean, get serious: Dope dealers against the Marines? A cakewalk.

You know, like Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. That sort of cakewalk. Let’s think what an expedition against the narcos would entail, what it would face.

To begin with, Mexico is a huge country of 127 million souls with the narcos spread unevenly across it. You can’t police a nation that size with a small force, or even with a large force. A (preposterous) million soldiers would be well under one percent of the population. Success would be impossible even if that population helped you. Which it wouldn’t.

Other problems exist. Many, many of them.

Let’s consider terrain. Terrain is what militaries fight in. Start with the Sierra Madre, which I suspect Trump doesn’t know from Madre Teresa. This is the brutally inhospitable mountain range in the northwest of Mexico, from which a great many of the narcos come.(Sinaloa is next door.) Forestation is dense, slopes steep, communication only by narrow trails that the natives know as well as you know how to find your bathroom. Nobody else knows them. American infantry would be helpless here. The Narcos would be found only when they chose to be found, which would not be at opportune moments.

The Sierra Madre Occidental, home of many of the drug traffickers. I have walked in these mountains, or tried to. It is impossible for infantry, worse for armor, and airplanes can’t see through the trees.

The Tarahumara Indians live in the Sierra Madre. They frequent the trails, sometimes in groups, and carry things not identifiable from the air. In frustration American forces would do what they always do: start bombing, or launching Hellfires from drones, at what they think are, or think may be, or hope might be, narcos. Frequently they would kill innocents having nothing to do with drugs. This wouldn’t bother the military, certainly not remote drone operators in Colorado or somewhere. They get paid anyway. The Indians who just had their families turned into science projects couldn’t do anything about it.

Well, nothing but join the narcos, who might call this a “force multiplier.”

Some other northern Mexican terrain. The Duarte Bridge between Sinaloa and Durango. A company commander, looking at it, would would have PTSD in advance, just to get a start on things.

Of the rest of Mexico, much consists of jungle, presenting the same problems as the Sierra Madre, and of cities and villages. Here we encounter the problem that has proved disastrous for US forces in war after war: there is no way to tell who is a narco and who isn’t.

In cities and towns, narcos are indistinguishable from the general population. How–precisely how, I want to know–would American troops, kitted out in body armor and goggles and looking like idiots, fight the narcos in villages with which they were unfamiliar? The narcos, well armed, would pick off GIs from windows, whereupon the Americans would respond by firing at random, calling in air strikes, and otherwise killing locals. These would now hate Americans. The narcos know this. They would use it.

Culiacan, Sinaloa, Chapo’s home city. It has a high concentration of narcos. Suppose that you are an infantry officer, sent to “fight the cartels.” You have, say, twenty troops with you, all with hi-tech equipment and things dangling. How do you propose to fight the cartels here? Which of the people in the photo, if any, are narcos? You could ask them. That would work.

Don’t expect help from the locals. Most would much rather see you killed than the narcos. And if they collaborated they and their families would be killed. This would discourage them. Bright ideas?

Now a point that Schwarzehairdye in the White House has likely not grasped. The narcos are Mexicans. So is the population. You know, brown, speak Spanish, that kind of thing. The invaders would not be Mexicans. This matters. Villagers usually do not hate the narcos. These provide jobs, buy their marijuana crops, often do Robin Hood things to help the locals. Pablo Escobar did this, Al Capone, Chapo Guzman. There is a whole genre of popular music, narcocorridos, celebrating the doings of the drug trade.(Corridos Prohibidos, by Los Tigres del Norte, for example). Amazon has the CD.

Which means that they would side with the narcos instead of the already-hated soldiers, putos gringos cabrones, que se chinguen sus putas madres.

Further, much of Mexico doesn’t much like its government.

And of course the narcos will have the option of fading into the population and waiting for the gringos to go home. This means that the invasion would become an occupation. The invading forces would thus need bases, which would become permanent. Bases where? All over the country, which is where the narcos are?

Getting the American military into one’s country is much easier than getting it out. The world knows this. Mexicans assuredly do. They know that America has wrecked country after country in the Mideast, always to do something good about democracy and human rights. They know that America is squeezing Venezuela to get control of its oil, squeezing Iran for the same reason, attacked Iraq for the same reason, has troops in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for the same reason, and has just confiscated Syria’s oil . Mexico has oil. So when Trump wants to send the military to “help” fight drugs, what do you suppose the Mexicans suspect?

Another point: Roughly a million American expats live happily in Mexico. These would be hostages, and they–we–are soft targets. The drones kill five narcos, and the narcos kill five expats. Or ten, or fifty. What does Washington do now?

Finally, consider what happens when you bomb a country, make life dangerous, kill its children, destroy the economy and impoverish its people? Answer: They go somewhere else. With Mexico being made unlivable, Mexicans would have two choices of somewhere else, Guatemala and….See whether you can fill in the blank. Maybe four or five million of them.

Nuff said. May God protect Mexico from Yanquis who would do it good, from advisers, and then adviser creep, and then occupation, and then from badly led militaries who have no idea where they are.

Reprinted with permission from The Unz Review.

Mexico Failed State Fails More

Over the last few weeks a string of serious incidents have highlighted the broader trend of organized crime-related violence in Mexico. A major confrontation in the state of Sinaloa, a daylight attack on civilians in Sonora, and a series of attacks in Ciudad Juarez, are just a few of the incidents that have occurred near the U.S. border. In the U.S. President Donald Trump announced, “This is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth.” Mexico president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has stubbornly continued to insist that his focus on economic growth and job creation will help ameliorate the problem of organized crime. “We already have results. We’ve stopped the rise in violence and I hope it will start to fall,” Lopez Obrador promised at a recent press conference.”

The fact that so many headline-grabbing violence incidents are taking place in a context of record-breaking levels of violent crime has led some observers to ignite a debate over whether or not Mexico is a failed state. In a recent article I explained, “Until Mexico’s federal government starts treating security as the country’s top priority the country’s crime crisis won’t end.” While some commentators in the U.S. seem to believe that a military confrontation with mafia groups would be a welcome shift in strategy, people in Mexico know all too well that military interventions can succeed in killing or detaining cartel leaders but do little to change the patterns of incentives that lead to the emergence of new mafia groups. In many parts of Mexico centralized cartels have been smashed and replaced by scattered groups of uncoordinated but brutally violence gangs, many of which rely on threatening or extorting locals rather than working in drug trafficking. In order to better understand the current dynamic I reached out to Falko Ernst, a Senior Analyst at the International Crisis Group, a Belgium-based non-governmental organization.

Nathaniel Parish Flannery: How has the dynamic of violence in Mexico shifted since you first started your research?

Falko Ernst: To explain how the dynamic of violence in Mexico has evolved I always point to how my own experience of going into the Hot Land region in Michoacán has changed. The Hot Land is one of Mexico’s more notorious areas. It’s got a decades-long history of narco-trafficking and is considered by many a black hole of sorts. As a Mexican professor told me when I shared with him my intention of doing research there back in 2011: You can sure get in, but you won’t make it out in one piece again.

The reason: the region was run to a large degree by the Knights Templar cartel, which looked from the outside like a weird and hyper-violent narco-sect of sorts as it cut off people’s heads but also claimed to act out of a divine calling. But that control – having one group running the show – also meant you had clear communication channels, and I ultimately ended up getting my presence tolerated by the heads of the Templars after I managed to talk to them.

Today, it’s become far messier, far more uncertain. To get to the same communities, I have to cross the territories of a number of different groups. You hope your presence won’t be picked up by their lookouts along the streets, and many times you take dirt backroads to avoid certain areas altogether. There is no way of knowing all of the groups, let alone build up some kind of communication with them. There’s simply too many now.

The current dynamic came about because under the pressure of the government and that of so-called self-defense groups, the local cartel has broken up into many parts. Instead of one relatively coherent criminal organization, you’re left with about 20 semi-autonomous armed groups. They fight each other but no single one is sufficiently strong to impose hegemony. Nobody is truly in control, and what you end up with are many micro-wars, many frontlines, and thus many drivers of lethal violence. That’s also been disastrous for local civilians: Many civilians have some kind of family connection to one or the other group, and as part of the warfare we’ve seen over the past few years, they are being targeted because of it.

And it’s not only Michoacán. This is a nation-wide trend. The state went in heavy-handedly in 2006, promising to sweep the cartels away by sending in the military. And they did succeed in killing or capturing a large number of kingpins – 133 was the last count, I believe. But what they didn’t do was to follow up by building institutions actually committed to protecting citizens in the most affected areas, to reestablish such a thing as legally committed state rule. That’s allowed the splinters of the hitherto larger organizations to bounce back with a revenge: engaged in incessant cycles of back-to-back killings, and often times acting far more aggressively toward civilians too, also as smaller groups are not always well connected to the transnational drugs trade and have turned to other methods of income generation such as extortion.

What we’re looking at here is a massive mutation of organized crime in Mexico: we had about 6 large so-called cartels in 2006. There are now more than 100 groups. And the result has been a steady rise in homicides. Last year set the historical record, with about 36,000. This year is going to be worse. In total, it’s been more than a quarter million now since they declared the latest reiteration of the war on drugs back in 2006. And that doesn’t even take into account the more than 40,000 disappeared – officially, that is, for the real number is likely higher.

Parish Flannery: What the most important take-away you’ve learned from your work in Michoacán?

Ernst: Two things stand out from my field research in Michoacan. First of all, that the still unbrokenly popular image of a conflict in which the good state fights the evil narcos has little to do with on-the-ground realities. The lines between what is state and what is crime are very, very porous. I’ve had dozens of conversations with members of criminal groups as well as with police, and in each shone through clearly that frequently, rather than just confronting each other, some type of deal is made. What that means is, among other things, that waging more war can’t work since the frontlines run deep into the state. What we would need instead, among many other measures, is a true commitment from all sides, including the U.S., to curbing corruption and collusion. Mexico needs functional institutions. As long as the impunity rate for serious, violent crimes remains at above 95%, you can kill as many narcos as you want without reaching any progress at all.

The second lesson on organized crime that I’ve learned is how personal violence is. We usually portray the bloodshed in Mexico as propelled by market competition, and as perpetrated by rational actors looking to get their hands on the bigger slice of the pie. But, at least in “traditional” conflict settings like Sinaloa, Guerrero, and Michoacán, all those guys know each other, and they’ve been in it for years, sometimes for decades. And when you’ve been in the game for so long, violence inevitably becomes personal. Say someone who at some point you were partners with screws you over, things escalate, and at some points a family member is killed. This has always been there, and kicked off cycles of revenge killings, essentially blood feuds. Now, larger organizations splintering into many parts has only accentuated that sort of thing, as they will all accuse each other of having betrayed the other.

Parish Flannery: As Mexico’s new president works to define his security strategy what’s the most important advice you’d give on combatting crime and reducing violence?

Ernst: To begin with that we need an integrated, balanced strategy. The discursive fallout of the past weeks’ events has been that we now have two camps, each deeply entrenched in their argument. One is calling for more war. The other is calling for more “hugs”, to cite López Obrador; for no use of force at all. But how do you explain that, say, to the thousands of civilians currently under threat of being forcibly displaced, or worse, in the mountains of Guerrero as they are stuck between warring armed groups? They are in that situation because of the failed militarized policies of the past. But renouncing the use of force altogether, in the current situation, also means telling them: “good luck, you’re out on your own.”

This is to say we need to think about where force is necessary to protect vulnerable, innocent people. But that alone is not enough. At the same time, we need to bring in peace building measures, including trying to mediate between enemy groups where this is possible, and not least to invest all we have into curbing impunity. If that’s not being done, the message simply continues to be: You can kill, disappear, do whatever to whoever, and nothing will happen to you. Curbing impunity concretely means, as a first step, to control police and judicial institutions. Corruption and collusion are still rampant, and that requires radical transparency and accountability mechanisms on all levels of government.

The issue with all this is: Where do you begin? Violent conflict in Mexico has spread geographically over these past years, and given that past governments have failed to implement needed reforms, what you are left with is a sea of problems. Trying to address it all at once would be like the proverbial attempt to nail jello to the wall. In other words, you need to concentrate resources on attempts to reform certain fragments of the state first to create such a thing as functional enclaves within it. And those enclaves, you then bring to action in some of the regions most affected by armed conflict these days, like Michoacán or Guerrero. That would then hopefully bring you both concrete results in mitigating violence on a regional scale, as well as a basis of experience to subsequently replicate positive experiences to further regions.

Check out some of my other work here.

I am a Latin America focused political analyst and writer. I split my time between New York City and Mexico City.

LeBaron Family vs Cartel

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Op-Ed: Lebaron family is more Mexican than American–and other points of contention

Op-Ed by Chivis Martinez Borderland Beat

Let it be known, I do not want to write this Op-Ed.

Covering the Lebaron massacre story, and moderating the over 1000 comments that followed has been eye-opening.  Even to a long time narco-blogger such as myself.

I purposely posted reports from the U.S., Mexico and global contributions. I did this to provide differences in reporting, which I always find interesting.

The amount of racism, “whataboutisms”, Americans vs Mexicans, and now blame the victims are staggering.

First point of misinformation was the spin… “9 Americans killed by Mexican Cartel”.

Say What??

OK, while technically correct, it is fundamentally incorrect.  The Lebaron family is more Mexican citizen than American.  One only has to understand that even after this tragedy, they are staying put, in their homeland of Mexico.

I saw two members of the Lebaron family giving interviews.  I can’t recall one name but the other was Daniel.  A question was asked of them if they would now move to “America”.  Daniel seemed perplexed as to why one would ask such a question.  “No. Mexico is our home, we have been here over 100 years.”

And that’s the focal point of my argument.  The Lebaron family is more Mexican citizen than American.

No one is getting that element correct.  “Dual citizens” would be accurate, if one must.

Blame the victim

Of the 1000 comments I received, 28 wrote in about the family’s history of violence, although I am sure the majority has heard of troubles in the family. Those comments were from outside Mexico, and many pointed to a 12 year old documentary.

I chose not to post those comments, and chose not to focus on any trouble the family had in the past with some of their members.  I felt it was ill-timed, and unnecessary.  I know that the Mexican government and narcos would love the attention to be shifted from them onto the bad history of some members of the Lebaron family.

A popular west coast newspaper chose to focus on the criminal element of some of the members.

Narcos want to know where to send the thank you flowers.


And at least 28 followers of Borderland Beat latched on to this aspect of the story giving narcos a pass.

Yet, from Mexico we received 2 dozen comments from those who know the family personally or live close to them, they hail Julian Lebaron as a good man, a humanitarian, working for the people’s land rights.

One such comment:

“My family is from Chihuahua not far from Galeana where the LeBaron family has a colony at. They are hardworking humble people I have personally met and interacted with many from their community. This was not La Linea because ALL of the heads of La Linea know and respect the family for their help and actions in the communities of that area. Either ways Mexico’s corrupt politicians will not let the U.S get involved because it will uncover a lot more than cartel activities. It will uncover lists and names of corrupt politicians. I agree with Trump on this one, you need a REAL military to take control because as sad as it is Mexico can’t or doesn’t want to deal with it.”
This is our time folks!  World attention is on Mexico and the atrocities generated by organized crime, let’s not lose sight of this!  We know these ghastly acts of violence happen on a regular basis in Mexico, Borderland Beat has faithfully reported as many as we could, but unless it is so monstrous, such as the 35 bodies dumped in Boca del Rio, Veracruz, it will not make the  world stage.

By the way, the attorney general later said in an interview that those 35 were innocents unconnected to organized crime.  Two men had minor offense records, one for stealing bricks.

They were used as props,  they were easy pickings, compliant as the municipal police picked them up and delivered them to El Mencho’s CJNG enforcer group at the time calling themselves “Mata Zetas’ or Zeta killers.

It is much less messy for corrupt cops to pick up law abiding citizens for these showing kills.  Shortly after the massacre, the entire force was terminated and the feds took over for a while.

However, if one looks for reporting the press outside Mexico, the reporting was not updated, or revised from the original premise of 35 Zetas killed and dumped in front of the World Trading Center.

Trump surprise

I was stunned when Trump’ tweet to AMLO was sent to me.

But I was not surprised at AMLO’s reply, the president who thinks hugs not guns is the answer.

For the record, he has implemented valuable programs, and I think it is only fair to give him his full term before judgement.  BUT, I don’t think he will ever find another U.S. president willing to go hand and hand with Mexico to fight cartels.

It took me back to a time I was at my Coahuila office with my staff about 6 years ago.  One of them asked me if it was true that the U.S. military was coming to Mexico to fight the narcos.

Apparently this was a rumor.

I said “No. That will never happen. Mexico is a sovereign nation, they would have to ask for help and then it would have to be approved in the U.S.”

She asked, “Why does Mexico have these problems and U.S. doesn’t?” (speaking in generalities of course)

I answered, “In my opinion, the absence of rule of law is directly related to the apathy of Mexico’s people.  The populous accepts criminality as something that can’t be changed, thereby have insulated themselves by disinterest — unless it happens to their family.”

“In the U.S people care.  People become involved.  People are willing to die for our freedom and welfare of our nation.”

“I don’t see that in Mexico.  That is perplexing to me; We Mexicans are big-hearted, warm and loving souls by nature.  Yet want nothing to do with fighting the evil of the nation. Oh the dichotomy.”

I would like to interject a bit of nervous laughter was the response.  No one said it was not true.

A book I read “Manana Forever?: Mexico and the Mexicans” it illustrates how everyday behavior is altered when a Mexican national comes to the U.S.  That even small things, such as assuring trash is deposited in a trash receptacle, because it is the right and lawful thing to do. For the majority there is a mind shift— because it is expected.

“Just because they were white”

This is the complaint I received most often.  And yes, there is some meat on that bone.  History demonstrates little media interest in the victims of Mexico, but by placing the “American” label on the tragedy, and blonde, blue eyed faces, the story exploded.

However, one can’t lose sight of the prize.  If you care about Mexico, care about the countless victims in Mexico, and the fact that narco violence is at an all-time high, and although he was not involved, that Mencho is the greatest security threat ever facing Mexico (I wrote this 5 years ago and not changed my opinion), and then we should welcome the attention, and grin and bear the flawed way that got us here.

Borderland Beat Reporter Chivis Posted at 7:38 PM


Speculation is mounting an American family massacred by a drug cartel was targeted in a hit as details surface of a long-running feud. 8, 20199:43AM

Mexico massacre: Murders may have been deliberate

New information has lead police to believe this isn’t the first time cartels had attacked the LeBaron family.

The deadly ambush on a convoy of families which killed three mothers and six children on a highway in northern Mexico may have been a deliberate hit rather than a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Officers from the Agency of Criminal Investigation for the state of Sonora last night arrested one person and rescued two hostages found bound and gagged in a white ute in the town of Agua Prieta.

However, Mexican Security Secretary Alfonso Durazo said today preliminary investigations revealed the suspect, who was found with four assault rifles, ammunition and an array of bullet proof vehicles, was not involved in the massacre.

Nine members of the LeBaron family, which broke away from the Mormon church in Utah decades ago to form their own fundamentalist cult in the Mexican enclave of La Mora, died in Monday’s ambush.

Rhonita Maria Miller, 31, and four of her children including 12-year-old Howard Jacob Miller, Krystal Bellaine Miller, 10; and eight-month-old twins Titus Alvin Miller and Tiana Gricel Miller were found shot dead in a burned out, bullet ridden SUV near the town of Bavispe.

The other victims were Christina Marie Langford Johnson, 31, and Dawna Ray Langford, 43, and her two children, 11-year-old Trevor Harvey Langford and two-year-old Rogan Jay Langford, were all shot to death.

Rhonita Maria Miller was killed along with four of her children including eight-month-old twins Tiana and Titus and ten-year-old daughter Krystal. Picture: Facebook

Rhonita Maria Miller was killed along with four of her children including eight-month-old twins Tiana and Titus and ten-year-old daughter Krystal. Picture: FacebookSource:Supplied

Dawna Langford with her son Trevor were killed in the ambush. Picture: Facebook

Dawna Langford with her son Trevor were killed in the ambush. Picture: FacebookSource:Facebook

Twins Titus and Tiana Miller were killed in the ambush. Picture: Facebook

Twins Titus and Tiana Miller were killed in the ambush. Picture: FacebookSource:Supplied

Eight children, some hit by gunfire, miraculously survived, including Ms Johnson’s seven-month-old daughter Faith and Ms Langford’s 13-year-old son Devin, who walked 22km for help as his siblings hid in the bushes.

After Devin failed to return, one of his sisters, nine-year-old McKenzie, left the remaining five siblings and walked for four hours in the dark to get help, according to the BBC. She was later found by rescuers.

Sonora state health authorities said five injured children remain in hospital, their conditions stable.

Mexican Security Minister Alfonso Durazo and US President Donald Trump have suggested the families were caught in the crossfire as two rival cartels shot at each other, or mistook the victims’ SUVs for a rival gang’s convoy.

But today relatives of the victims rejected those theories, saying they believe the LeBaron family was targeted in a “premeditated” attack to stoke fear in the La Mora community.

“They killed innocent people to teach fear,” Adrián LeBaron, the grieving father of Rhonita Miller, who was slain along with four of her children, told CNN Espanol.

Mr LeBaron said an organised crime group issued “a kind of threat” in a series of calls to the community several months ago “but they were not going to bother us anymore and now they shot us with 3 families …”

Adrián LeBaron with daughter Rhonita Miller, who was killed in Monday's ambush along with four of her children, believes the attack was ‘premeditated’. Picture: Facebook

Adrián LeBaron with daughter Rhonita Miller, who was killed in Monday’s ambush along with four of her children, believes the attack was ‘premeditated’. Picture: FacebookSource:Supplied

Eric LeBaron was kidnapped by a cartel in 2009 but was released after the family refused to pay the $1million ransom. Picture: Facebook/Fox News

Eric LeBaron was kidnapped by a cartel in 2009 but was released after the family refused to pay the $1million ransom. Picture: Facebook/Fox NewsSource:Supplied

From left: Benjamin LeBaron and Luis Widmar Stubbs were murdered by the Juárez cartel after they set up a patrol group in the wake of Eric LeBaron’s kidnap. Picture: Facebook/Fox News

From left: Benjamin LeBaron and Luis Widmar Stubbs were murdered by the Juárez cartel after they set up a patrol group in the wake of Eric LeBaron’s kidnap. Picture: Facebook/Fox NewsSource:Supplied

The region where the massacre took place, between Chihuahua and Sonora, is run by Fransico Arvizu, aka The Jaguar, who is closely affiliated with the powerful Sinaloa cartel.

Chihuahua Attorney General César Peniche told Univision the Jaguars are in a turf war with rival gang La Linea, which is connected to the notorious Juárez cartel commanded by Roberto González Montes.

Mr Peniche said the two groups were constantly fighting over the transportation of drugs in the region, which is remote and mountainous.

Mr LeBaron said his relatives had a long and violent history with the cartels since resettling in the Mexican enclave of Sonora following a split with the Mormon church in Utah decades earlier

In May 2009, Eric LeBaron, 16, was kidnapped by a drug cartel who demanded a ransom of $1million in exchange for his safe return. The family refused to pay and Eric was ultimately released, according to Fox News.

Members of the LeBaron family weep at the scene of the massacre. Picture: Herika Martinez? AFP

Members of the LeBaron family weep at the scene of the massacre. Picture: Herika Martinez? AFPSource:AFP

Devastated relatives view one of the burnt-out cars at the scene of Monday’s deadly ambush. Picture: Herika Martinez? AFP

Devastated relatives view one of the burnt-out cars at the scene of Monday’s deadly ambush. Picture: Herika Martinez? AFPSource:AFP

Following that terrifying event, another family member, Benjamin LeBaron and his brother-in-law Luis Widmar Stubbs, founded a vigilante group called SOS Chihuahua to patrol the La Mora community and keep it safe.

Later the same year, Benjamin LeBaron was reportedly kidnapped in the middle of the night by a group who tied his hands and threw him onto a truck. When Mr Stubbs came to his aid, he was beaten and subdued.

The men’s bodies were found dumped in a cemetery, a bullet lodged in the back of each man’s head.

Several months after the murder, Mexican troops captured the suspected killer, Jose Rodolfo Escajeda.

According to Reuters, Escajeda was considered one of the bloodiest hitmen in the crime-ridden state of Chihuahua and a leader of the powerful Juarez cartel.

“They are isolated events,” Mr LeBaron told CNN Espannol. “But these are the bad spirits of bad people wanting control … there is an incredible evil here. I do not know what you call this.

“If they are using us to make a statement, I do not know who it’s for. One cartel towards another.”

But, Mr LeBaron warned: “We do not give in.”

La Linea: Drug gang out of control
La Linea: Drug gang out of control

La Linea (The Line) is an enforcer unit of the Juárez Cartel established by former and active-duty policemen, heavily armed and extensively trained in urban warfare.

Before the brutal slaying of the nine Mormons, the group had been responsible for several massacres and countless murders, along with kidnappings and extortion.

The gang has been instrumental in helping the cartel, run by Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, to exert a hold over the drug trade through Ciudad Juarez. The DEA estimates 70 per cent of the cocaine that enters the US flows through this area.

La Línea is linked to some of Ciudad Juárez’s most notorious massacres, including the massacre of 16 teenagers at a high school party, the shooting deaths of 19 patients at a rehab center, the massacre of 14 people at a boy’s birthday party, and of a mobile phone-detonated car bomb attack – all of them perpetrated in 2010.

Their former gang leader, nicknamed El Diego, was guilty of carrying out more than 1500 killings from 2008 to 2011.

Baja Daylight Saving Time 2010 Published 11-Dec-2009. Changed 9-Mar-2010

Northern Mexico’s border cities will share the same daylight saving schedule as the United States from 2010 onwards.

DST changes in Mexico

Map of DST schedule in USA 2010

Bajadock: My first couple of years in Baja 2007-09 witnessed an asynchronous havoc each spring and autumn when Baja California changed clocks differently than California.  Commuters, workers and students living in Baja and doing their daily thing in SoCal finally got relief in 2010.

I think I got more “reminders” to do something to my clocks/watches/sundials this past week than my entire childhood collection of “brush your teeth, say your prayers and tie your shoes”(though I have never tied shoes!). And I don’t have any event requiring my accurate timing at this stage of my existence. Lo que sea!

Northern Mexico’s border cities will soon share the same daylight saving schedule as the United States. The new DST schedule will see these border cities extending their daylight saving time (DST) to last from the second Sunday of March to the first Sunday of November, which is in line with the United States’ DST schedule.

Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies, as well as the Senate, have both approved a proposal for northern Mexico’s border cities to share the same daylight saving schedule with the United States. The synchronized schedule for the border cities will begin on Sunday, March 14, 2010.

New DST Schedule for Northern Mexico

Mexico’s Congress passed a law in December 2009, bringing the DST schedule observed by northern Mexico’s border cities to be in line with the United States’ DST schedule. The daylight saving arrangement will affect the following areas:

  • Tijuana & Playas de Rosarito.
  • Ensenada.
  • Mexicali.
  • Tecate.
  • Ciudad Juarez.
  • Ojinaga.
  • Ciudad Acuña.
  • Piedras Negras.
  • Anahuac.
  • Nuevo Laredo.
  • Reynosa.
  • Matamoros.

The synchronized daylight saving schedule also applies to towns on the Mexico’s’ northern border between “the international line and the pipeline located at a distance of 20 kilometers (about 12 miles)”. The revised DST arrangement also affects to the municipality of Ensenada in Baja California.

The new DST schedule will see these areas move the clocks forward from 2am (02:00) to 3am (03:00) local time on the second Sunday of March, and then back from 2am (02:00) to 1am (01:00) local time on the first Sunday of November. This schedule is synchronized with DST schedule set in the United States’ Energy Policy Act of 2005.

Illustration image
Mexico’s northern border area, including Tijuana (pictured above) will have a daylight saving schedule that is in line with the USA’s daylight saving schedule.
© Brunt

Border Areas’ Past Dilemma

The push for the amended DST schedule came in light of concern that, with the nation’s current DST schedule, business hours were not always synchronized between US/Mexico border cities and towns, which share strong socio-economic relations.

The United States’ daylight saving schedule annually starts on the second Sunday of March and ends on first Sunday of November. Northern Mexico’s border cities and towns used to follow national law that saw most of the country (except Sonora) following a DST schedule that begins on the first Sunday of April and ends on the last Sunday of October.

Many people, including political leaders, living in northern Mexico’s border areas complained that the country’s DST schedule was nearly one month behind the US schedule when it started, and about one week behind the US schedule when it ended. People living and working around the border areas needed to remember the one-hour time difference during the period when DST was not synchronized between the borders.


World Divided Over Time

The act of moving the clock an hour forward in an effort to save time in the sun during the warmer months is almost always credited to Philadelphia’s most famous son, Benjamin Franklin.

Here’s the thing: when Franklin wrote to Paris about “diminishing the cost of light,” he wasn’t being serious. He was making a joke.

The letter Franklin wrote anonymously to Parisians about making better use of daylight was satirical. Per The History Channel:

By the time he was a 78-year-old American envoy in Paris in 1784, the man who espoused the virtues of “early to bed and early to rise” was not practicing what he preached. After being unpleasantly stirred from sleep at 6 a.m. by the summer sun, the founding father penned a satirical essay in which he calculated that Parisians, simply by waking up at dawn, could save the modern-day equivalent of $200 million through “the economy of using sunshine instead of candles.”

Oh, and the best part? As History notes, Franklin wasn’t even suggesting the idea of Daylight Saving Time. All he was doing was making fun of the French and suggesting they get out of bed earlier.



Uber Under Attack in Mexico

Taxi drivers gather to protest ride apps in Mexico City on Oct. 7.Photographer: Marco Ugarte/AP Photo

Bajadock: Mexico is rearranging the Uber deck chairs on the Titanic, GEEZO! Chiclet, Blanket, Burrito and Car Wash vendors at border are the next sting operations.  “Documentos, por favor!”…pssst: that guy,lower left, selling the velvet Last Supper art piece, is providing unfair competition to Tijuana fine art galleries:


Mexico’s militarized police force, already grappling with a surge in drug violence and immigration, has a new mission: to stop people from hailing an Uber at airports.

The Mexican National Guard has been charged with conducting sting operations at the country’s 56 airports to make sure that only taxis with a federal permit are allowed to load passengers, according to a statement by the Ministry. The operation comes after the Ministry met with the nation’s taxi association, and will include government communications and transportation officials.

The Uber crackdown adds to the workload of security forces who already are struggling with rising homicides this year. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has drawn criticism for releasing the son of drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman after a gun battle this month, has also assigned the Guard to stop undocumented immigrants along Mexico’s southern border in response to demands from U.S. President Donald Trump.

The Uber announcement triggered an immediate backlash on social media, with people wondering if airport raids are really the best use of the national police force, especially after a recent shootout in Michoacan left 14 state police officers dead, and another in the state of Guerrero left one soldier and 14 civilians dead.

“The use of public force in sting operations at airports would represent a threat to users’ rights to choose their mode of transport,” Uber said in a statement, adding it was willing to engage in negotiations with the government to improve competition in the sector.

In response to the criticism, Deputy Interior Minister Ricardo Peralta said the assignment won’t represent any “special” operations since the restrictions of who can operate in federal areas are already mandated by law. The taxi association said it was surprised to hear Peralta’s comments, which appeared to dial down the tone of the agreement, Reforma newspaper reported, and that they would engage in blockades if it is not honored.

Earlier this month, 4,000 taxi drivers took to Mexico City’s streets, blocking major avenues and access to the capital’s airport to protest against digital ride-hailing platforms like Uber, Didi and Cabify.

In 2016, the country’s antitrust regulator Cofece said taxi services at the Mexico City airport were operating under relative monopolistic practices that were causing inflated prices.

Saguaro Cactus Extermination for Wall

There is an outcry in Arizona after footage captured border wall construction bulldozers plowing over iconic cacti that are protected in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument — a monument created to protect Organ Pipe and Saguaro cacti, as Newsweek reported.

The video depicts the bulldozers running roughshod over the national monument and clearing saguaros in a rush to build a costly and unnecessary wall on the U.S. southern border.

“Saguaros are being bulldozed for the #BorderWall in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument,” wrote Laiken Jordahl, Border Lands Campaigner with the Center for Biological Diversity, on Twitter with a video of the destruction. “Trump’s reckless border hysteria is destroying our environment and killing the very species this national monument was designated to protect.”

Kevin Dahl who works at the National Parks Conservation Association shot the video. He told Newsweek that he was heartbroken and outraged by what he witnessed.

“At that point, what they were doing was destruction, not construction,” he said.

The actions Dahl witnessed stand in sharp contrast to a video posted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that shows an appropriate relocation process, where a cactus is carefully removed with designated extraction tools, as opposed to a bulldozer plowing it over, according to Newsweek.

“We’re watching the destruction of Arizona’s most iconic species to make way for a useless border wall that most Arizonans oppose,” Jordahl wrote to EcoWatch.

Dahl watched the crews level saguaros and several other desert plants and then pile them up into slash piles. The destruction he witnessed was on the west side of the park where a 78-mile strip of Trump’s wall is slated to stand.

However, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, which runs up against the border with Mexico already has a significant amount of fencing. As the Earther blog at Gizmodo reported, that includes five miles of fence to keep pedestrians out and another 25 miles of posts that act as vehicle barriers. Earther classified the actions as “wanton destruction.”

“The Department of Homeland Security says they’re relocating cacti, but the videos we shot at the construction site tell a very different story: one of flattened earth and total devastation,” Jordahl wrote to EcoWatch. “Even if they do relocate some specimens, any remediation will pale in comparison to the severe and lasting damage done by the wall, stadium lights and enforcement zone.”

While the current fencing respects the wildlife and the migratory patterns of native desert animals, Trump’s border wall does not.

“So the wall that’s currently under construction is 30 feet tall it’s made up of a 6 foot wide steel bollards and they’re drilling 10 feet into the ground in order to set the foundation for this wall and…will stretch for almost 50 miles,” Jordahl said, as NBC Tucson reported. “So that means any migrating wildlife will be completely unable to make it around this barrier.”

The National Park Service and Customs and Border Patrol offered a statement to Newsweek that ran counter to what Jordahl said, stating that they have ensured there will be “locations for small wildlife passages within the new border barrier that would allow for the continued passage of small mammals.”

However, that seems like a dubious claim to environmentalists who have seen the Trump administration trounce over environmental regulations and manipulate environmental impact statements.

Running roughshod over the fauna in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument presents another set of problems since the site is both a U.S. National Monument and a UNESCO biosphere reserve. The park is also sacred land to Indigenous groups like the Tohono O’odham Nation, as Dahl told Newsweek.

“The Tohomo O’odham [Nation], in their taxonomy of life saguaros are very close to humans,” Dahl told Earther. “And you know, they have a majestic presence, they are the iconic symbol of this part of the world. You know you’re someplace different when you’re in a saguaro forest.”

Jordahl summed it up succinctly on Twitter.

“Trump’s #BorderWall is under construction through the most pristine Sonoran Desert ecosystem anywhere on the planet — Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument,” he wrote. “Endangered species, Indigenous sacred sites & wilderness lands are being destroyed before our eyes.”

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