“This book will be in my top 10 list of all Texas books for 2010″ Glenn Dromgoole, San Angelo Standard Times TEXAS A Historical Atlas By A. Ray Stephens $39.95 HARDCOVER, 448 PAGES, 9 X 12 Or” .111.1 11, The most comprehensive, state-of-the-art work of its kind, Texas: A Historical Atlas is more than just a reference. It is a striking visual introduction to the Lone Star State. With 86 essays and 175 full-color maps, the book illustrates the most significant aspects of the state’s history, geography, and current affairs. 2800 VENTURE DRIVE OUPRESS.COM UNIVERSITY OF NORMAN, OK 73069 facebook .COM/OUPRESS OKLAHOMA PRESS TEL 800 627 7377 YOUCED.COM/OUPRESS TEXAS A Historical Atlas 1 tt,1 , together from thin plywood. I worry that someone might take offense at our tourism. My husband disappears into the shrine. At that moment, a silver truck speeds toward me, its hazard lights flashing. It swerves dangerously in and out of traffic, weaving past a transit cop. A convoy of Mexican military Humvees follows. I freeze. Should I get out and run, or stay in the car? I watch with relief as they pass and my husband reappears. I argue that we should turn around now, away from the speeding chase. But he persuades me to keep going, and we cross Anzalduas without incident. West of the bridge, there’s billowing smoke. Two weeks later, there’s a gun battle near the bridge’s entrance. Several cartel members, soldiers and innocent motorists die. AUGUST 11 I TRY TO AVOID TALKING with people about the drug war, but it’s impossible. My questions seem to double back to organized crime. In the course of interviews on my immigration story, a government official mentions that the city police work for the Gulf Cartel. A lawyer tells me he’d tried to file a lawsuit, but the courthouse isn’t operating; the government employees are there, but the file cabinets are empty. The only tentative grasp the federal government seems to have on Reynosa is through its military. But the soldiers aren’t trained to operate as a city police force, or as judges. A woman with relatives in the neighboring city of Rio Bravo tells me the Gulf Cartel has roadblocks at the city’s entrances. Cartel members have emblazoned their trucks and clothes with the initials CDG, for Cartel del Golfo. It’s this way all over Tamaulipas, with either the Zetas or the Gulf Cartel dominating towns and cities. No one knows how many men and women they’ve threatened or paid to fight for them. The Mexican army is chasing phantoms all over the state. When people tell me these things, they whisper, even in their own offices with doors closed, sometimes locked. “You didn’t hear it from me,” and “Don’t use my name,” I hear again and again. AUGUST 12 WE FIND OURSELVES at a migrant shelter run by Catholic nuns. I’ve heard that Central American immigrants are being kidnapped and extorted by cartel members when they arrive in Reynosa to cross into the United States. The shelter has a 15-foot, white stucco wall around it and a steel gate where a portly, unarmed man sits all daythe shelter’s security guard. Inside sit 20 or so dejected men and women from as far away as Honduras. Many have been deported by the United States, and some are waiting to cross back to reunite with their families. A slight, 27-year-old Guatemalan man with the face of a teenager sits down and whispers about his escape from a cartel safe house. He’d asked a man on the street for directions to a money-changing house. Instead, the man had tied his hands with rope, taken his shoes and thrown him into a dark room with several other bound men. The kidnappers had taken $250 from him and were trying to extort his poverty-stricken family for more. He’s lucky, he tells me, because he escaped. He takes his baseball cap off, and I notice a fresh scar across his eyebrow. He wants to be deported back to Guatemala, but he’s terrified to leave the shelter. The kidnappers are outside, he says, waiting. The nuns can do nothing to prevent it. A Honduran man tells me he sought political asylum in Mexico after being blacklisted during the recent coup. In Mexico, he’d been robbed of everything, he said, even the clothes on his back. He holds up a piece of paper from Mexican immigration. It has his photo on it, and it says he’s requested asylum. That was three months ago, and he hasn’t heard a thing since from the Mexican government. “There’s no work, and I can’t even go to the 7-11 across the street, because I’ll be kidnapped,” he says. “I can’t go back to Honduras, and I can’t stay here. “You can feel the presence of the devil out there,” he warns as we gather our things to leave. The guard opens the gate, and we walk into the glaring sun. Men in baseball caps and jeans stand across the street staring. Three propped against the wall of the shelter smoke a joint. Their eyes are red, they stare emptily back at us. I look up, and a line of men sits watching from a building ledge overlooking the shelter. Dressed in black T-shirts, they remind me of vultures. We act as if we don’t notice, but I feel panicked. We climb into our truck, lock the doors and drive away. Two weeks later, I read about the discovery of 72 bodies on a ranch not far from Reynosa. They were Central and South American migrants too poor to pay the Zeta cartel’s ransom. AUGUST 13 AFTER YESTERDAY, the thought of returning fills me with dread. But journalists are peculiar people. We insert ourselves into ridiculous and dangerous situations to ask perfect strangers probing, personal questions. I still don’t haVe enough for my story. So we go back to Reynosa, where I run into an old journalist acquaintance of mine. I am standing on the international bridge when I see him waiting for a bus from the United States. He’s with his 2-year-old son, and I walk over to say hello. He seems shocked to see me. He asks what I’m working on in Reynosa, and he warns me that WWW.TEXASOBSERVER.ORG It’s difficult to reconcile my memories of Reynosa with the crumbling city before me. READ about the history of Reynosa at txlo.com/reynosa LEARN more about the Gulf Cartel at tx1o.comigulf
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