Skip to comments.Parents of missing critical of comments (Mexico)
Posted on 06/23/2005 8:31:10 AM PDT by SwinneySwitch
Congressman Henry Cuellar said Wednesday he was extremely disappointed with Mayor Betty Flores' comments on CNN, where she suggested that violence on the border isn't as bad as the media has reported.
"The situation is tragic and I will not pretend that this problem does not exist," Cuellar said in a written statement.
His statement was read out loud at San Agustin Plaza, at the start of a peaceful rally led by the families of some of the U.S. citizens kidnapped in Nuevo Laredo. They, too, expressed disappointment with the mayor.
During her appearance on Lou Dobbs Tonight, she suggested that those who have been kidnapped were not everyday tourists and somehow involved in the drug trade.
"You have to understand who those 37 Americans were, and how they were connected to the Mexican violence," Flores told Dobbs. "It's not the same thing as you and I being kidnapped."
Though Flores later agreed with Dobbs that not all of the missing Americans were involved in drug trafficking, Flores' initial statement nevertheless disturbed family members of Laredo's missing.
"She called our children criminals. She made it seem like they got what they deserved," one mother, Olga Mendoza, said at the rally, breaking into tears.
Mendoza is the mother of Cornelio Molina, who disappeared July 1. He was found dead near the riverbanks four days later, shot execution style, with his arms tied to a tree. Laredo Police believe Molina was kidnapped, killed in Mexico, with his body brought back to Laredo.
"I can't understand how the mayor, being a mother, could make such a statement," she said. "Whatever their background, who is she to pass judgement on them."
Another mother, Rosita Gonzalez, also took the mayor's comments to heart. Her two sons, Gerardo, 24 and Samuel, 18, were also kidnapped in Nuevo Laredo.
"If she has proof our sons are delinquents, then show it to us," she challenged, as her daughter wiped away tears.
Leading the group was William Slemaker, stepfather of 27-year-old Yvette Martinez, who disappeared nine months ago with her friend, Brenda Cisneros, 23.
"The mayor's comments were like a slap to the faces of all families of Laredo's missing," he said.
"Why won't she condemn the kidnappings and accept that there is crime in Mexico and Laredo - both are affected by this outpour of violence," he said angrily. "We are proof of it. We live it everyday. How could she not acknowledge that?"
"I mean, one moment she tells us Laredo is a safe city, another moment she says crime is spilling over, then she goes back and says there is no real problem on the border - I mean, which one is it, Mayor?" he asked.
Slemaker led the group in a march "to stop the violence" from San Agustin Plaza to International Bridge I.
Carrying signs of their missing loved ones, the group marched in silent protest.
One mother, Dora Luz Villarreal, whose two sons, 28-year-old Pedro Villarreal and Eduardo Villarreal, 27, disappeared June 29 of last year, quietly stopped to ask a group of Mexican Nationals, "Have you seen my sons?"
Though her sons have been missing for almost a year, she is confident they are still alive.
She claims at one point, the kidnappers asked for a $5,000 ransom for their return, but she has not heard from them since.
"Mexican authorities know where our children are, the people of Nuevo Laredo know where our children are," she said. "The only question is what are they waiting for? Why don't they just tell us where our children are?"
She explained that she asks everybody if they know where her children are in hopes that one day someone will lead her to her sons.
"Who knows, maybe I've already asked the person who kidnapped them and they are silently laughing behind my back," she said, breaking into tears.
"But I will die before I stop looking for my sons."
In a telephone conversation with Cuellar later in the day, he said he wants to work with the mayor to solve the growing problem.
"We need to put all this aside and focus on the bigger issue now," he said. "We really need to work together if we want to stop the violence."
He continued, "this is not about drugs, this is about the people."
(Celina Alvarado can be reached at (956) 728-2566 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Good grief, Mayor Betty!
Los dos Laredos ping!
Please FReepmail me if you want on or off this South Texas/Mexico ping list.
She didn't win any new voters by making those comments.
What do you mean, it's not the same?
Some of the kidnappings are for the sex trade, mayor. That makes you the same...sort of.
Some are for money, the kidnappers have a hope of getting a ransom paid. That makes you the same...sort of.
And some are drug-related. Is that what you were talking about, when you said it wasn't the same? So what does that say about how you characterized the 37 missing? Yeah, that's what I thought.
Think about loose lips, Madame Mayor. You've got 'em, hon.
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