Matamoros: A History of Inconsistency

Photo Credit: Alejandro Cegarra for the NYT

By Fernanda Padilla 
Staff Writer

On March 3, 2023, four U.S. citizens were caught up in a crossfire in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico, which left a Mexican woman dead on site. The four Americans were kidnapped by local cartel members after allegedly being mistaken for Haitian smugglers. Two of the victims were found dead, and the two survivors were transported back to the United States. The Mexican authorities’ rescue response in this case was expedited and more coordinated than usual, which may simply be attributed to “the fact that Americans were involved,” guaranteeing a response from authorities. Additionally, the cartel turned in members that were allegedly directly involved, and released an apology. 

 Following the incident, Republicans have pushed for U.S. military intervention in Mexico. Senator Lindsey Graham insinuated that Mexico would be “an enemy of the United States” if it continued “to give safe haven to drug dealers,” sparking distrust in Mexico. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador condemned the Republican-led push as political propaganda, and as an imposition on Mexico’s sovereignty. AMLO also criticized the United States’ domestic counternarcotics approach. 

This response has led many to note the inconsistencies in the way that both countries respond depending on the nationality of the victims. Over 100,000 Mexicans remain missing, many of which had no investigations launched at all, leaving behind thousands with no closure. This includes the mothers of disappeared Mexicans, who have noted that no comparable efforts have been made to find their children. They have lamented the incident in Matamoros, however they draw attention to the immediate response to missing Americans and the blind eye turned toward missing Mexicans. In fact, those who put in an effort to assist in searching for missing Mexican citizens are threatened, and even killed. While the incident has incited a debate between Mexican and American authorities, it is unlikely to make a tangible change in Mexico. Until there is a genuine move to reform, history will continue to repeat itself, impacting hundreds of thousands of Mexicans, and potentially Americans.

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