Shades of Pancho Villa

America’s greatest asset has always been what I call “The Big Pond Differential”; two oceans separate us from most of the world. For 233 years, the United States of America has existed with only one invasion of a foreign army upon our shores and that was in 1812. Since that time there have been the attacks on Pearl Harbor, September 11, 2001, and the one that time forget – Pancho Villa.

Today:

President Barack Obama Tuesday announced extra agents for the southern US border and vowed to staunch narcotics demand, as officials pledged full support for Mexico’s battle against drug cartels.

The White House vowed to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with Mexican President Felipe Calderon as his government confronts narcotics-linked violence that has claimed more than 1,000 lives so far this year.

“The president (Obama) is concerned by the increased level of violence … and the impact it is having on both sides of the border,” the White House said in a memo unveiling the new strategy.

“He believes that the United States must continue to monitor the situation and guard against spillover into the United States.”

Last year saw more than 5,300 killed in Mexico in drug-related bloodshed that experts say is fed by easy access to guns and drug profits in the United States.

It has been almost a 100 years since Porfirio Diaz was overthrown as the dictator in Mexico. From 1910-1920, the Mexican Government had more Presidents and assassinations than the French Revolution. From Madero to Huerta to Carranza to Obregon and other players like Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa, the Mexican Revolution tested aa_pershing_mexico_3_eWoodrow Wilson’s patience on many occasions. The US even took over the port of Vera Cruz and sent a “Punitive Expedition” after Villa’s raid on Columbus, New Mexico. The expedition was a failure.

So, why did Pancho cross the border? To make a long story short, Pancho was upset at President Wilson. Wilson never took sides in the early years of the Revolution. He employed a policy called “Watchful Waiting”. This including seizing Vera Cruz to protect American oil interests in the region. But aside from that, Wilson did two other things as the Mexican Revolution/Mexican Civil War went on. First, he placed an arms embargo against selling arms to Mexico. He did not want to add more fuel to the fire. When 1916 came along, Carranza, with General Alvaro Obregon leading the way, had established control over the central portion of the country and over Villa in the north. Wilson had even acknowledged Carranza as the rightful President in October of 1915. Villa was not happy, nor was Zapata, with the methods, policies, and tactics of Carranza.

The problems of Mexico of 1910-1920 are still the problems of Mexico today. When the Spanish arrived in the 1500s, an economic system called the “ecomienda” were set up. The land was divided up amongst the Spanish settlers and really hasn’t changed hands much in the last 500 years. Now it is known as the Hacienda system. The problem is consistent throughout Latin America.

Along come the cartels…
Just as in Columbia, the lure of easy money through drug trafficking has lead to violence throughout Mexico in recent months. Cartels are now running the show in several areas of Mexico. As the Mexican government tries to clean up the cartels and the drug trade, corruption, inside information/informants, and downright abhorrent violence are making it extremely hard. Hence, Obama has decided to beef up our presence along the border.

But questions remain: Can Mexico clean up its own mess? Will the US have to step in and help? Will it spill on to American soil? Or has the invasion already begun and we don’t know it yet? When we think of the world we are living in now, we are lucky to have never seen war on our soil in our lives. I would hate to see that. For Obama’s sake, and more importantly, for Mexico, I hope this gets cleaned up and soon or we could be facing a threat to our country which was not included on in the war on terror.

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