Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Old Camargo Cannonball…and the story it tells

I see the moon cratered and pockmarked though in this case the sphere is solid iron and the story it tells hints at failed hopes and dreams.  Discovered in the late 1970s in a clay quarry by a man working a backhoe the old cannonball was buried in delta mud about six feet deep.  Ten pounds or thereabouts the projectile was fired within sight of the Rio Grande on a hot afternoon or perhaps it was at sunrise.  We will never know though history tells us that around the Mexican town of Camargo, Tamaulipas just south of Rio Grande City, Texas armies battled over the years for causes both complex and frivolous.  Today they battle as before with both bullets and bombs.

The oldest settlement along the Texas/Mexico border founded in 1749, Camargo was at the time a haven for Celtic Iberians who, as I have been told, wanted to put as much distance between themselves and the Spanish as possible.  Remember that Spain was but a small kingdom in the southern part of a peninsula called Iberia that itself was filled with competing kingdoms until 1492 when Isabella and Ferdinand consolidated the kingdoms into one country.  In the early 700s CE the Mediterranean kingdoms of Granada and Spain were overrun by Islamic Moors.  Castile was a kingdom caught in the middle of the Iberian Peninsula and thus the name “castle” for the fortresses built to protect the northern Celtic people from Moorish advancement.  In the north lay the Celtic kingdoms of Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, Navarra et al, though only Asturias was spared any Moorish occupation.  Even so, Germanic influx via thousands of Visigoths saved much of the region from the Islamic invaders and it was the children of these German-Celts who migrated to the New World and settled in the land now known as northern Tamaulipas and northeastern Nuevo Leon.  Today the territory is occupied mainly by people of Native American decent but there are still a few who can trace their genetic ancestry to those earliest settlers.

Perhaps more than anything the cannonball tells a story of ephemeral peace.  What tranquility those Celtic settlers may have found was in time destroyed by politics, geography and clashes of culture.  Today the town of Camargo is but a vestige of its former times.  Mexican drug cartels have taken over and though the media seems oblivious to the horrors occurring on the US/Mexico border the residents of South Texas and Northeastern Mexico know all too well how war ravages not only families and communities but also trust.  In my next report I will tell you about a US narcotics task force called “The Panama Unit” that was found to be corrupted to the core.  Members of the task force were involved not only in taking bribes from the cartels but also in smuggling and distributing narcotics themselves.  This is a report you will want to read.

Images of Camargo, Tamaulipas, Mexico

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