Joe Muench / El Paso Times
Article Launched: 08/03/2008 12:00:00 AM MDT
Would our Congressman, Silvestre Reyes, leave his constituents holding a $1 million county hospital bill?
No way. He's got to run for re-election every two years.
That is, unless his hands are tied by somebody way up the federal government ladder.
Thus, my theory about why U.S. federal agents are guiding shot-up Mexican drug-war victims to Thomason Hospital, which means our sheriff's deputies must sometimes guard the place with automatic rifles and a "WHO GOES THERE?" attitude.
Not a good atmosphere to go visit one's ailing granny.
So far the bill for the El Paso County taxpayer stands at about $1 million. This includes those shot-up victims who are U.S. citizens, but still owe hospital bills.
These Mexican citizens, Swiss-cheesed with bullet holes, and probably breathing out of four or five of them, are ...
I'm saying they're secret agents working for the U.S. government on real sensitive drug stuff.
They're our spy-novel moles. They're Sean Connery sans the martini; they're Maxwell Smart saying, "Can you hear me now?" while talking into his shoe.
On Wednesday, our hospital people went to Washington, D.C., hoping to find out what's going on. They were assured from federal agencies there is no coordination between the United States and Mexican governments to transfer drug-war victims to Thomason.
What a snow job we got!
Because, here's one of the cases that certainly is an eyebrow-raiser.
A man was shot somewhere far away from Juárez. He was taken to an
airport. He was flown to Juárez, where another ambulance was waiting. He was ushered through Juárez like he was President Felipe Calderon. At the top of an international bridge, the Mexican ambulance was met by a U.S. ambulance. It was already there, waiting. He was whisked off to Thomason in brisk, police-escort fashion.
There's no such precision around here unless the real high-ups in both Mexico and the U.S. have barked such orders. Try calling 911 and asking for such a travel itinerary.
It gets more spy-novelish when Thomason people say they checked and we're the only city where the feds are letting these apparent drug-war casualties enter the U.S. In San Diego, agents don't say, "Come on in." The victims are stopped at the bridge, according to Thomason spokespersons.
Federal law, in a nutshell, states that any person showing up at a U.S. hospital with an emergency condition must be treated, whether he or she can pay or not.
In San Diego and in Laredo, drug-war victims are not being allowed in. Here they're obviously expedited, by U.S. border people, to the hospital door.
It's because they're special people involved in our spy games, I say. They know too much. And we'd better lock down the hospital because the guys who missed killing them are apt to try again. Recently, armed gunmen walked into a Juá rez police station and opened fire. They've been known to go into Mexico hospitals and open fire on people they failed to finish off the first time.
This sets up dangerous situations for our citizens. This is not fair to taxpayers in the county.
And how about this? Our sheriff's deputies get all kinds of grief if they even ask someone to prove their citizenship, yet they are called out to assist when the Mexican drug-cartel war spills over into El Paso.
El Pasoans and Thomason are getting rooked. And what a snow job we were given Wednesday.
Joe Muench may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org