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Politico: The Kidnapped American Trump Forgot

Cover: Christopher Lee for Politico Magazine

Politico: The Kidnapped American Trump Forgot
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Writing for Politico magazine, J. Weston Phippen provides a thorough account of disappearances that took place in Nuevo Laredo at the hands of the Mexican Navy's marine corps (Cuerpo de Infantería de Marina). Mentioned specifically is a US-trained Special Forces (Fuerzas Especiales) unit that on deployment to Nuevo Laredo in 2018 was linked to a number of kidnappings. The evidence made up of numerous eye-witness accounts and security camera footage is unquestionable. Making it indisputable that it was active duty members of the marine corps who were snatching people without any regard for judicial processes. Those taken were last seen in the hands of the marine corps and never seen alive again.

These stories told in full for the first time in English are important in understanding some of the difficulties faced in Mexico. Insecurity and horror that not takes place at the hands of criminals but by the country's own military. One question I kept asking myself was "where the fuck is the state of Tamaulipas?" Understandably being the information black hole that the place is, not a single official was quoted. The only attaché in Nuevo Laredo was the heroic Mr. Raymundo Ramos, not a peep out of local officials. That's not to imply they'd do anything, the state police are just as horrific and has its own fuerzas especiales. But they need to be accountable as well. It's outrageous that the federal government comes stomping into the state, grabbing people off the street, and the state government has few words to say about it.

The issues raised about the Mérida Initiative should be echoed by every newspaper in this country. Furthermore, increased pressure put on the incoming administration to be one that addresses these incidents publicly and directly when they happen in the future. The United States military should be more cautious and apprehensive in the training they provide to counterparts. It should be not forgotten that one operates mostly in a law enforcement capacity, the other militarily. The latter should not be providing the former with tactics of war for a law enforcement environment. While disappearances are nothing new and hardly something that's been learned from the Americans, the weaponry and training provided makes it all more efficient.

Impunity should never be left out of these discussions. The judicial system needs to be strengthen to handle these cases as they happen. Not years later or following a handful of press exposés.

NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico—The day they kidnapped Jorge Antonio Dominguez, he had spent the afternoon laying tile at the house on Belisario Dominguez Street. It was 9 p.m. on April 4, 2018, when his father, Daniel Hernandez, arrived for the final inspection. As Hernandez paced the floor of the peach-colored stucco home, pointing to flaws in his son’s work, he realized he’d forgotten to take his diabetes pill. So with the plumbing still a wreck, 18-year-old Jorge and another worker left in the family’s silver Dodge Caravan. It should have been only a short drive to the nearest convenience store for water.

The home on Belisario Dominguez Street was a new beginning for Jorge’s family. After raising five children in Texas, Daniel Hernandez and his wife, Maria Elena Dominguez, had moved across the border to Nuevo Laredo and emptied their savings into flipping houses. It was a decision made in part because of President Donald Trump. Hernandez had a green card and owned a small used-car lot in Fort Worth. But Dominguez had lived in the U.S. illegally since she was six. Two months into Trump’s term, fearing deportation, Dominguez decided it was time to move back to Mexico and get her papers in order. “I wanted to fix them the right way,” she said. Her youngest child, tall and slender Jorge, with the hopeful wisps of a teenager’s first mustache, left high school in Texas to follow his mother. He figured he could visit his older brothers and sisters whenever he wanted; like them, Jorge was a U.S. citizen. “He was our baby,” Dominguez said. “He was a momma’s boy.”

As Hernandez studied the tile work, he heard a loud thud from up the tree-lined street. Then he heard shouts. He stepped onto the front porch as the first in a line of trucks sped past, its license plate covered. The family’s silver van followed right behind, only Jorge wasn’t driving. As the last truck in the convoy disappeared, Hernandez saw the word “MARINA” stenciled in blue on the tailgate.
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