Chairman Chaffetz Demands Better Safety for US Consulates in Mexico Facing Worsened Violence
June 05, 2015, 09:27 AM
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How violent has Mexico become? One indicator is that the House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz has suggested that three consulates there may need to be closed because of the danger to State Department staff from cartels and other local criminals.

Reporter William La Jeunesse discussed the details on Fox News with host Bill Hemmer:

LA JEUNESSE: Criminal gangs and cartel violence continue to plague Mexico — homicide, extortion, robbery, all remain high. A hundred US citizens were murdered, 130 kidnapped last year. Two days ago gunmen killed the congressional candidate, a politician’s now dead ahead of Sunday’s midterm elections. The State Department is actually warning that violent conflicts between rival criminal elements and/or the Mexican military can occur in all parts of the region at all times of the day that’s near the South Texas border. No highway routes through Tamaulipas are considered safe. So here’s a map and because of it some congressmen want the Secretary of State to consider closing consulates in Matamoros, Nuevo Laredo and Guadalajara. . .

In February the Matamoros consulate reported hundreds of firefights involving machine guns and grenade launcher explosives, Bill, partially destroying two government buildings.

HEMMER: What happens at these consulates on a daily basis and why aren’t we hearing more about it?

LA JEUNESSE: Well, number one, the consulates serve American interests in Mexico and right now they’re busier than ever because the flood of US investment which is one reason why the government is actually suppressing reporting about the violence. Congressman Jason Chaffetz says the area is not safe for tourists or diplomats.

CHAFFETZ: I wanna know from Secretary Kerry why are those consulates still open if it’s so dangerous. If we can’t properly protect them, should they close them? And if they’re not gonna close them, what are they gonna do to ensure the safety and security of Americans?

So Mexico is exploding in violence but the chaos isn’t reported because the Mexicans don’t want American investment to stop. What businesses would invest in a nearly failed state?

In another recent video, Chaffetz said Mexico might be the most dangerous place on earth now, worse than the Middle East.

Nevertheless, the American border to the #1 world violence spot remains open because the administration cares zero about public safety or national security.

Reps press Kerry on ‘alarming’ violence surrounding US consulates in Mexico, Fox News, June 04, 2015

A new wave of cartel-fueled violence in Mexico has congressional lawmakers raising bipartisan alarm over the safety of American personnel stationed there — and questioning whether consulates in the country’s most dangerous cities should even remain open.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Homeland Security Committee member Filemon Vela, D-Texas, sent a letter Thursday to Secretary of State John Kerry seeking details “as soon as possible” on the security situation in three specific cities: Matamoros, Nuevo Laredo and Guadalajara.

They said lawmakers recently visited U.S. consulates in two of those cities, and learned the security situation in the area “has deteriorated to an alarming extent.”

“[W]e urge you to take all steps possible to reduce the level of violence, and to protect the lives of Americans working there,” they wrote.

Chaffetz and Vela pointedly asked for a written response addressing why the U.S. consulates in the three cities should remain open “given the level of criminal violence” there.

“I want to know from Secretary Kerry, why are those consulates still open?” Chaffetz told Fox News. “If it’s so dangerous, we can’t properly protect them — should they close them? If they’re not going to close them, what are they going to do to ensure the safety of Americans?”

The lawmakers cited increased fighting within the Gulf Cartel in Matamoros, as well as clashes with Mexican security forces. They said the U.S. consulate there reported 227 security incidents in the U.S. border region in February — on one occasion, a grenade was detonated three miles from the consulate. The letter also cited a May 21 attack on two Mexican government buildings in the same area, which is near the border with Texas.

The lawmakers cited warnings that the State Department previously has issued for those regions, to citizens and personnel. The latest travel warning for the Mexican state which includes Matamoros and Nuevo Laredo urges Americans to defer all non-essential travel, warning of homicides, kidnappings, carjackings and other crimes — and saying the number of U.S. citizens falling victim to such crimes in those two cities has increased.

The letter said, for example, two American citizens from Texas have been missing since early February after going to visit their grandmother in Matamoros.

According to the State Department, 100 U.S. citizens were murdered in Mexico last year, and at least 130 were kidnapped.

“The risk of violence can spring up in Mexico at any time,” said Fred Burton, former State Department diplomatic security officer. He said those traveling in the region have to worry about “roving roadblocks” and “cartel checkpoints,” as well as corrupt officials.

Jose Wall, who spent 30 years as a federal agent in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America with the ATF and State Department, said traveling in areas like Matamoros and Nuevo Laredo “is not safe.”

Chaffetz and Vela also questioned in their letter why danger pay for U.S. consular employees in Matamoros and Nuevo Laredo is apparently set to be phased out, and why U.S. consular employees in Guadalajara don’t receive any danger pay.

Fox News’ William LaJeunesse contributed to this report.