U.S. Consulate in Nuevo Laredo Attacked with Explosive as Drug Violence Rises in Northern Mexico

April 12, 2010 7:02 am 0 comments
Image by U.S. Congress, Committee on Foreign Relations, 2007.

Image by U.S. Congress, Committee on Foreign Relations, 2007.

Today in Latin America

Top Story – Unidentified assailants threw an explosive over the fence of the U.S. Consulate in the border city Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, reigniting anxieties that U.S. authorities are being increasingly targeted by Mexican drug gangs.

A statement posted on the Consulate’s Web site said the attack occurred at around 11 p.m. on Friday and caused window damages, but no injuries.

The authorities are investigating the explosion and have temporarily closed the Consulate in Nuevo Laredo, as well as another in nearby Piedras Negras. “The Consulate General and Consular Agency will reopen when we are confident that we have adequate security to keep our visitors safe,” the press release said.

While the motive for the attack was not clear, The BBC reports that violence has escalated in recent weeks in northern Mexico, due to a conflict between the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas over control over smuggling routes to the United States, the primary market for illegal drugs.

The attack occurred less than a month after the murder of three people with connections to the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juárez. The killings, allegedly carried out by one of Mexico’s notorious drug gangs, prompted analysts to wonder if the U.S. was being targeted.

Mexico’s drug war has raged since December of 2006, when newly innaugurated President Felipe Calderón began an military offensive on the Mexican drug traffickers. The University of San Diego has recorded more than 10,000 drug-related murders since January 2007.

The U.S. has spent $700 million since 2008 through the Merida Initiative to aid Mexican security forces, but attacks on U.S. officials, buildings and citizens by drug traffickers have been rare until recently. The Obama administration has requested another $450 million this year to fund the Merida Initiative in Mexico.

First lady Michelle Obama is scheduled visit to Mexico City to meet with President Calderón on Tuesday.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • A 4.4 magnitude earthquake hit the U.S.-Mexico border Sunday near the town of Calexico, Mexico. No damage or injuries was reported.
  • Enrique Villicana Palomares, a journalist for the Mexican newspaper The Voice of Michoacan who was kidnapped last week, was found with his throat slit Saturday in the state capital, Morelia.

Caribbean

  • Operations have begun to move temporary shelters for homeless Haitians from dangerous sites before the rainy season begins.
  • Cuban folksinger Silvio Rodgríguez gave a speech rather than performing at the “Concert for the Fatherland” (Concierto por la Patria) organized by the Cuban government this weekend to counter what it calls a “media attack” by the U.S. and Europe over alleged human rights abuses.

Central America

Andes

Southern Cone

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