The battle of the US-Mexico frontier

I don't want to go on being just a root in the shadows,
vacillating, extended, shivering with dream,
down in the damp bowels of earth,
absorbing it, thinking it, eating it every day.

-Pablo Neruda from 'Walking Around'

Border issues in the news...

Charlie Bruce was a Texas police chief of the old school. In more than four decades on the force he gave homegrown criminals good reason to steer clear of Del Rio, his small town on the United States's southern border, but held no grudge against the steady flow of Mexicans across the frontier in search of opportunity. He admired them for their hard work and the chances they took to better themselves. Besides, some of them built his house.

What happened on the other side of the border, in Mexico, was another matter. There, Bruce unashamedly admits that for years he used his authority as a Texan police officer to run a lucrative smuggling racket. Mostly he dealt in duty-free whisky and cigarettes shipped in to Mexico, bribing officials with tens of thousands of dollars a time to avoid taxes, and then promptly selling the contraband on to Americans who brought it back across the border.

Occasionally Bruce branched out. He laughs when he recalls the handsome profit made from exploiting a sugar shortage in the 70s by paying off an official to illegally sell him a stock of subsidised sugar sitting in a Mexican government warehouse, which he shipped to a pie-maker in Philadelphia.

Now 75 and retired to a new house a stone's throw from the border, he recounts his years as a smuggler with undisguised pride and admits that it was all made possible by being a police officer. "That's exactly why I got by with it, because I was well known over there. My shield was law enforcement. I got by with murder more than other people," he says. "Other people may think it's wrong but the border's its own world."

Read the entire article by
Chris McGreal in the Gaurdian.