I made my annual trip to Mexico last week. Brenda Whitlock accompanied me. It was her first venture south of the border. After the reports of all the violence caused by the split of the drug cartel in 2010, many Americans have quit traveling to Mexico. The fear is of being robbed or worse. But I can tell you from experience that traveling to Mexico is no worse than finding yourself in the wrong parts of Columbus, Memphis or other regional towns and cities where robberies or shootings are common. The national media magnifies the particular incidents in Mexico, but if you travel there and stay away from people who are part of the criminal element, you’ll likely have an incident-free trip as we did. The Federale’s and the Mexican military could not have been more professional or any more hospitable than they were when we went through checkpoints, that have always been commonplace in Mexico even before the cartel made it’s violent split over control of Mexico’s drug trade that spurred the recent rash of incidents in the past 3 years. The fear has always been getting caught in a drug-war crossfire…but that chance is as great in Columbus as it is anywhere. Just like in Mexico, our people will have to be the one’s to put a stop to the violence by creating a drug-free environment that doesn’t allow robbers, thieves, murderers and drug pushers to thrive in our society. The many good citizens of Mexico, just like in Columbus and other such-municipalities, will have to make a stand against the criminal element! We can’t let them win. They can’t let them win.
In the meantime, my longtime friend who resides in Cd. Mante, Tamps, Mexico – Erick Diaz – is helping make a change in Mante, his hometown. The city of 70,000 people (Erick says it was 120,000 population before the drug war began between the two cartel factions. He says at least 50,000 have abandoned the city since 2010. RW), has been hard-hit because it sits in a vital area near the border and the Gulf of Mexico, a major thoroughfare for drug traffic to the United States. Erick is in charge of the Red Cross in Mante (called Cruz Roja in spanish).
While in Mante, Erick was called out several times because of accidents on the roadways. Through donations, the Mexican Red Cross in Mante is fortunate to have a few ambulances that can help immensely in emergencies. But the organization is inadequately supplied when it comes to items such as hospital beds, crutches, stethoscopes and other such vital medical emergency equipment. I took a wheel chair to donate to the Red Cross on my trip.
Erick says that the Red Cross is a worldwide organization, so any donations help especially when the donation is stipulated to help in a certain area…with Cd. Mante being such an area that is in desperate need. Volunteers like Fernando Merac, who himself is a survivor of cancer, are dedicated individuals wanting to help those less fortunate – help coming from someone who knows how it feels to need a helping hand – are few and far between, especially in Mexico it seems.
Erick, his wife, Monica, his daughter Marianna and two sons, Erick Jr. and Luis, are also 24/7 dedicated Red Cross volunteers in Mante. There are a few others. Those who are in accidents and other emergency situations in and around Mante know firsthand how important the Red Cross is. In fact, The Red Cross is the only emergency responder who responds to medical and other such emergencies around Mante. There are no private ambulance services associated with their local hospital. The Red Cross is it!
Anyone wishing to help Erick or the Mante, Tamaulipas
Mexico Red Cross can do so by contacting him by email at email@example.com or by visiting the Mexico Red Cross website. Just Google it. Erick’s mailing address is Erick Diaz de la Garza, Ocampo #301 Nte., Zona Centro C.P. 89800, Cd. Mante Tamaulipas. Even if you can’t make a monetary donation, anything medically-related can help. Blood pressure machines, stethoscopes, First Aid Kits, crutches (they don’t have any), hospital beds, heart monitors, etc. could go a long way in saving lives in a poor part of our neighbor to the south.
Mexico citizens are just as tired of the cartel as we are, maybe more. Many live in fear in their own country. But they are basically a peaceful people like we are. All Mexico school children wear uniforms to school and seem to have old-school manners (yes sir, no sir, yes ma’am, no ma’am. They smile at visitors and aren’t rude to them. Their parents are proud when they do well in class at school. They, like southerners, are a proud people.
And lest anyone think that the problem with the drug cartel is a Mexico problem, think again. A big majority of that cartel operates within the United States. They haul huge amounts of drug-sales money across the border and are continuously recruiting in the states that border Mexico. Yes…even in Mississippi!
It’s a problem for all of us.
Federale Pulled Me Over For Speeding in Mexico
One humorous incident happened while Brenda and I were traveling by car from Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico back to Cd. Mante in the state of Tamaulipas. Mexico has toll roads called ‘Cuota’s’. the maximum
speed limit is 110 kilometers (or near 70 miles per hour). I was having a conversation with Brenda on the Mexico Cuota between Lagos De Mareno and San Luis, Potosi. We topped a hill doing about 70-72 when I noticed 3 Federale’s standing beside their vehicles on the side of the road having a converstaion. One made a motion to slow down and I obliged by hitting the brake. After passing them, I looked in my rear view mirror and noticed that the Federale making the motion to slow down hopped into his patrol car. I announced to Brenda, “you’re not going to believe this, but he’s coming after me!”. Brenda had never been to Mexico. The look on her face was one of horror. She said she couldn’t believe we were about to be pulled over by a Federale in Mexico…in the middle of no where!
She was very worried.
To be honest, it wasn’t my first time being stopped, so I was less nervous. Yet, I had my own qualms.
I stopped over the next hill and was waiting on him on the side of the road. (their vehicle’s aren’t very fast…it took him a while. RW). The Federale on the passenger side of the patrol car approached our vehicle. He extended his arm with a hearty, “Bueno’s tardes, Senor.” I returned his handshake. He was struggling with his english…but finally managed, “Senor…maximum speed limit is 110 kilometers…you do 126!” I said, “Senor…there is no way I was doing 80 miles per hour…no way!” I looked at Brenda and asked her. She said, “no…no way!”
He showed me on the speedometer what I was doing. Again, I told him no way. After a few polite back and forths, he saw he was not going to get any supper money out of me, he said, “Ok…so you do 70 m.p.h.?”, which he formed in a question. I said, “yes…I was doing 70!”
He said, “Ok….bye!”…and promptly waived me on my way.
Brenda was so relieved!
And I have to admit…so was I. Now…where is that next rest room??
Ron Williams can be reached by email at