There’s an old saying among Mexican officials when dealing with the United States: Always tell the gringos yes, but never tell them when.
That dance is the result of two centuries of tortured bilateral relations marked by U.S. insensitivity and Mexican hypersensitivity. And it’s most likely what’s playing out now as Washington and Mexico City haggle over the fate of a former U.S. Marine, Andrew Tahmooressi.
There’s a network of freight trains that runs the length of Mexico, from its southernmost border with Guatemala north to the United States. In addition to grain, corn or scrap metal, these trains are carrying an increasing number of undocumented immigrants who aim to cross into the U.S.
And despite the many deadly challenges it poses, more and more children—both with adults and alone—have been risking the journey. That prompted President Obama this week to warn of "an urgent humanitarian situation."
Six U.S. crew members of the Aqua Quest, a 65-foot ship out of Florida, have been sitting in a jungle jail in Honduras for almost a month now. The charge against them: bringing weapons into the violent Central American country illegally. But the case is questionable – especially since Aqua Quest International, the Tarpon Springs ocean exploration and recovery company that owns the vessel, was invited by Honduran officials to carry out development projects like river clearing.
What do you when you live in the most violent place on earth and you can’t take another day of it?
We’re not talking about Syria or Iraq or Afghanistan. This is about Honduras, in Central America, little more than a two-hour flight from Miami. It has the highest murder rate of any nation in the world today, more than 80 per 100,000 people. Its second largest city, San Pedro Sula, has the worst homicide rate of any urban area in the world, almost 175 per 100,000.
Latin America is riddled with crime, and no place is more violent than Honduras. It has just 8 million people, but with as many as 20 people killed there every day, it now has the highest murder rate in the world.
It would be easy to blame drug trafficking. Honduras and its Central American neighbors have long served as a favored smuggling corridor for South American cocaine headed north to the U.S.
This past Christmas I flew to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, to visit my family. The last time I had been to Tegucigalpa was in 2002, so I boarded the plane with conflicting emotions -- excitement about seeing my family and fear about the flight.
In 2004, I survived a plane crash. For years I could not board a plane without first taking a handful of Xanax and then disassociating. After years of working with a therapist who specializes in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I have arrived at the point where I can fly without the aid of chemicals or mind-body trickery.