BROWNSVILLE, RGV – U.S. Representative Filemon Vela has sent a letter to Mexico’s Secretary of Interior, Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, urging the Peña Nieto administration to secure the state of Tamaulipas from violence associated with drug cartels.

The congressman from Brownsville has also asked Osorio Chong to “help with the search of the two missing American veterans in Matamoros, the Garcia brothers; help find out what happened to Mexican Businessman Fernando Lugo, Businessman Carlos Rendon and the Alvarado siblings; and focus on special secure economic zones in northern states on the U.S.-Mexico border.”

Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, Mexico's secretary of the Interior, visited Matamoros on Wednesday.
Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, Mexico’s secretary of the Interior, visited Matamoros on Wednesday.

Mexican businessmen and friends of Vela delivered the letter while Osorio Chong was in Matamoros on Wednesday afternoon. The interior secretary was in Brownsville’s neighboring city to meet with local, state and federal officials following an upsurge in violence in Tamaulipas. Vela is concerned not only for the future of Mexico but also the impact continued violence will have on the Rio Grande Valley, whose economy is heavily reliant on trade with Mexico. Many Valley families have relatives living in Tamaulipas, particularly the border cities of Reynosa and Matamoros.

Last week, Vela pleaded with the Obama and Peña Nieto administrations to do a lot more to address the violence in Tamaulipas. He wants the same secure economic zones President Enrique Peña Nieto has proposed for the southern Mexico border to be created on the northern border with Texas.

“I don’t understand what it is going to take for the Administrations in Mexico City and Washington, D.C., to take action to address the violence in Tamaulipas. More killings? More kidnappings? More missing Americans?” Vela said.

“Once again, I ask both administrations to move swiftly to create the same special secure economic zones on the U.S.-Mexico border that President Enrique Peña Nieto has proposed in the States of Guerrero, Oaxaca and Chiapas. The prevalence of violence in Tamaulipas requires concrete action on the part of the Mexican government. The United States should exercise its maximum diplomatic might to spur a full blown response to what is rapidly becoming an international crisis.”

Here, in full, is the letter Vela sent to Secretary Osorio Chong:

February 11, 2015

The Honorable Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong
Secretary of the Interior

Dear Secretary Osorio Chong:

I write seeking your assistance. Blocks away from where you are meeting today, in the Cathedral of Matamoros, lie the remains of my great uncle, Father Rogelio Sanchez. My mother, who eventually became the first female mayor of Brownsville, attended elementary school at Don Bosco in Matamoros. Since my childhood, I along with friends, family, and neighbors on both sides of this border have enjoyed the bicultural ties that those of us who live in the Rio Grande Valley, Matamoros and Reynosa have shared for generations.

I request your personal assistance and that of police and military forces to locate Ernesto and Jesus Garcia, brothers and United States Army veterans, who disappeared in Tamaulipas on February 2, 2015. Furthermore, the families of Fernando Lugo, Carlos Rendon, and Erica, Alex, and Jose Alvarado deserve to know what happened to their loved ones, and it is critical to communities on both sides of the border that these crimes are fully investigated and that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

President Enrique Peña Nieto recently announced plans to implement special secure economic zones in southern Mexico, and I would respectfully request that the Mexican government move swiftly to implement these same zones in the Matamoros/Reynosa region. Implementation of these zones should incorporate two courses of action. First, there should be an immediate and forceful effort to bring violence in Tamaulipas to an end. Second, enhancing employment and economic opportunities in Matamoros and Reynosa would help foster an environment that makes our border communities secure and prosperous over the long term.

I stand ready to provide whatever assistance may be necessary to accomplish what I know are these shared objectives.


Filemon Vela
Member of Congress