Color me a little surprised when I saw a travel warning from the Matamoros office of Mexico’s National Chamber of Commerce regarding south Texas, in particular Brownsville.
I just happen to be down on the border working on a story and saw the warning appear in The Brownsville Herald. According to the paper, the statement urged businessmen and Mexican Nationals to use “maximum precaution” when travelling to Brownsville.
The statement pointed to a recent shooting at the Sunrise Mall in Brownsville (police say the shooting happened after an argument over a fender bender in the parking lot). I met with Brownsville’s interim police chief, Orlando Rodriguez, about another matter today and asked in passing what he thought of Mexico’s warning. “I was surprised because I don’t understand what the concern is,” said Rodriguez.
The interim Chief said the shooting has nothing to do with border problems or drug trafficking. Rodriguez said he believes the warning was more along the lines of a “jab” at the US because of the multiple and frequent travel warnings issued by our State Department regarding travel to Mexico. Rodriguez made two more points.
One, Brownsville and other Texas border communities are growing quickly, in part, because of Mexican nationals moving to the US to escape rampant violence (something not lost on the minds of the Mexican government). Two, Brownsville’s annual homicide rate rarely cracks double-digits.