Friday, July 8, 2011

Ghost towns south of the border

We a have discussed ghost towns within the rural setting.  But these are not ghost towns of old mining towns abandoned when the mine tapped out.  In Argentina they were small towns, that become economically too expensive to support: so essential services (in this case train service was first) were cut off.

In Mexico, it is from a different cause:  lawlessness in the countryside.  Granted that Mexico’s urban areas are not always a picnic either.  But at least you have the option of blending in with the crowd.  In the countryside you are all on your own.

This goes against the time tested (nuclear war influenced) survivalist strategy of bugging out of the cities and going out into the countryside.  FerFal has posted about problems in the rural areas of Argentina numerous times.

My point is not to say that you are safer in Times Square New York than the backwoods of Vermont, or North Dakota.  My point is that the rural settings safety advantages over the urban-suburban environment are very much of a time-and-place:  it depends not only where you are, but when you are there.  You could also probably expand that to why you are there.

Michel Marizco, TPR Fronteras, 8 July 2011

In northern Mexico’s smallest towns, cartel violence has led to a diaspora as people flee to larger cities. Along the U.S.-Mexico border, villages in the Mexican states of Sonora, Chihuahua and Tamaulipas are emptying out, leaving lawless ghost towns.

In some of those towns in Sonora, residents say the government can no longer protect them.

The largest of the towns in these hills is Tubutama. A 300 year old mission town. Father Anastasio Franco Gómez gives the Mass on this day.

“The last census counted 1,750 people; right now, I doubt there are 500 left,” Gomez said in Spanish.

The town’s last local cop was shot dead in mid June. The police station, closed down. Companies stopped delivering goods to the local stores. School teachers have left; businesses locked up.

Empty roads, empty houses sit in the middle of town, their windows shattered out. Maria Luisa Galvach has been the mission’s keeper for 18 years.

“There are no medics. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing,” Galvach said. “The health clinic that served the region is closed down.”

Travel further into the hills and closer to the U.S. border in Arizona. The last Army checkpoint is miles behind now. Pull into the pueblo of Cerro Prieto. This is Gilo’s territory. The town is nearly deserted.

Like the other towns here, there is no gas station or large grocery store. For those, one must drive down into the cities. But people have been killed by the cartel for trying to bring fuel or food back up. The assumption is it will go to Gilo. The Mexican Army? It stands back and watches.

It leaves Leonardo’s father angry, frustrated. “They don’t allow us to bring provisions, fresh vegetables, nor gasoline,” he said in Spanish.

As to why you may not want to go to Tubutama...  For more (some graphic) pictures: here.

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