Congressmen Demand Answers from Kerry on Mexican Violence and Risks to US Consulate

As Mexico’s security conditions continue to worsen,  bipartisan Congressional leaders are demanding answers from Secretary of State John Kerry and asking him why U.S. Consulate Offices in that country should remain open given the out of control violence in that country.

In hard hitting letter, Jason Chaffetz, the chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform along with Filemon Vela a ranking member of the subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security documented the recent acts of cartel violence that has hit the border cities of Matamoros, Nuevo Laredo and the Mexican financial hub of Guadalajara.

“In light of the widespread violence in northern Mexico and the crime fueled unrest in Matamoros, Nuevo Laredo and Guadalajara, we urge you to take all possible steps possible to reduce the level of violence and to protect the lives of Americans working there.,” the letter shows.

The letter asks:

1) Why U.S. Consulates should remain open in light of the violence

2) What steps is the U.S. government taking to assist Mexico in response to cartel violence

3) Why is danger pay being eliminated for consular employees in Matamoros and Nuevo Laredo; whether some form of pay will be used to compensate consular employees in violent Mexican cities and why consular employees in Guadalajara have not been receiving danger pay.

The letter states that since 2006, Mexico’s began to experience a rising level of violence as the government deployed troops to the streets in order to take on cartel gunmen. “Since then more than 100,000people have died or gone missing.”

The letter also mentions a series of travel advisories that the Department of State has issued where they warn travelers that “Violent conflicts between rival criminal elements and or the Mexican military can occur in all parts of the region and at all times of the day.”

The advisories also warn that “no highway routes through Tamaulipas are considered safe.”

In the border city of Matamoros where cartel violence had been common, the situation worsened when two factions of the Gulf Cartel, the Metros and the Ciclones went to war using automatic weapons, grenades and .50caliber rifles  and “Despite efforts of state and federal law enforcement officers to quell public outbreaks of violence, local CDG factions and organized crime groups continue to terrorize businesses and residents alike with threats of extortion, kidnapping and armed robbery while also dueling internally for turf and power.”

The letter mentions the constant firefights where cartel gunmen have been patrolling the streets hunting for their rivals and a recent rash of grenade attacks that have injured civilians.

The letter also mentions Ernest Garcia and Jesus Garcia, two U.S. Army veterans from Brownsville Texas who went missing after visiting their grandmother in Matamoros. The letter also mentions the worsening security conditions in the Mexican financial hub of Guadalajara, Jalisco where that state has been the scene of fierce firefights.

“In light of the widespread violence in northern Mexico and the crime fueled unrest in Matamoros, Nuevo Laredo and Guadalajara, we urge you to take all possible steps possible to reduce the level of violence and to protect the lives of Americans working there,” the letter shows.

Read the letter here

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