Pubdate: Tue, 4 May 2010
Source: Wall Street Journal (US)
Copyright: 2010 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Author: Ana Campoy
DRUG WAR STALKS TEXAS CITY
For Years, McAllen Profited From Ties to Mexico, but Now Violence Is Reversing Gains
MCALLEN, Texas–For most of its history, McAllen was a dusty little farm town at the southern tip of Texas, long on cactus and short on jobs.
That started to change two decades ago, when factories began opening across the Rio Grande. McAllen morphed into a palm-fringed boomtown, sending workers across the border to Reynosa and luring shoppers and vacationers from Mexico’s northern industrial center, Monterrey, a few hours away by car. Texas City Turns to Mexico
Now, drug-gang violence, until recently confined to Ciudad Juarez and other cities far to the west, is startlingly close by. Last month, some 30 gunmen stormed two hotels in Monterrey and kidnapped six people, in a shock for the city. The 130-mile highway from Monterrey to the border has seen a number of incidents, including a recent shoot-out between armed men and the Mexican military.
The gunplay hasn’t erupted in McAllen itself, but people here fear their hard-won economic gains, already dimmed by the recession, are under threat.
“So far, the violence has acted as a disruption,” said Keith Patridge, whose job as president of the local development agency is to attract companies to the area. “If it were to get worse, it would have a big impact.”
Spooked by the spreading violence, fewer companies are investing in the U.S.-Mexico manufacturing corridor than last year. The flow of Mexican consumers, on which McAllen relies for almost a third of its retail revenue, also has dwindled.