Connecticut National Guard troop in M113 armored personnel carrier. Photo Matthew Lucibello U.S. Army National Guard



Abbott Could Get Tips from Affleck and Argo
on State Mexico Office Rescue as War Looms

Capitol Inside
November 28, 2022

Texas faces a delicate challenge with no time to waste if the state plans to shutter offices that it has in Mexico and evacuate their staffs in anticipation of potential warfare on the Rio Grande with an invasion that Governor Greg Abbott has declared to be under way from the south. The Republican governor could look to Hollywood for ideas on how to accomplish such a feat - starting with the Oscar-winning film Argo about the rescue of Americans who'd been held hostage for months at the U.S. embassy in Iran.

Abbott oversees the State of Texas Mexico Office - which is also known as STMO - as a trusteed program in the governor's office that provides research and assistance on economic development opportunities on both sides of the border. The STMO has offices in Mexico City and Monterrey in the border state of Nuevo Leon.

The State of Texas Mexico Office was conceived in 1971 to facilitate investment and trade with Mexico. Abbott's office has outsourced many of the STMO's primary responsibilities to private interests with powers that he's given himself with disaster declarations for the COVID-19 pandemic and a record migrant surge that he's put into effect. The governor's emergency decrees have made it possible for the state to award contracts without the need for competitive bidding. Abbott has been accused of giving state business to cronies who range from donors to former members of his staff with the disaster orders that he's issued in the past two years.

But the state could feel an obligation to protect the people who are working in the STMO offices in Mexico - regardless of whether they're staffed with public employees or workers who private contractors are employing there. While Abbott has been keeping his cards to his chest on the fate of the economic development offices in Mexico, they could be casualties of war if he isn't bluffing with the invasion edict.

The staffs at the Texas economic development offices in Mexico - while accustomed to a certain degree of risk that's inherent in a third world country - could be in more danger now as a consequence of the inflammatory rhetoric that Abbott has been aiming at the enemy he perceives with drug cartels, human traffickers, terrorists and migrants who trespass on private property and destroy it while they're at it.

Abbott has made it clear that he's ordered the Texas National Guard and the Department of Public Safety commanders to use whatever means they have available to repel the invasion, which he refused for months to acknowledge officially before its christening in an executive order a week after the general election earlier this month. The state has sought to flex its might with the procurement 10 compact tanks that were built for use by the U.S. in combat in Vietnam in the early 1960s. Texas plans to unleash a fleet of gun boats on the Rio Grande as well as it gears for the possibility of bloodshed on the waters and the land on the river's northern shore where the state will have its 10 aging armed personnel carriers stationed strategically.

But the STMO offices present a more pressing predicament - and a viewing of the 2012 classic Argo could get the creative juices flowing at Operation Lone Star as its commanders focus on a scheme to bring the economic development workers home safely from Mexico as the source of the alleged invasion.

Ben Affleck served as the director, producer and chief star in the role of former CIA operative Tony Mendez. Based on Mendez's own account as the central character in the real life drama that inspired the film, Argo centers on the ex-intelligence officer's scheme to rescue the American hostages in Iran in 1980 by tricking their captors into thinking that he and a crew were filming a science fiction movie at the embassy.

Argo won Oscars for best motion picture, adapted screenplay and film editing. Affleck was snubbed by the Academy - however - when the nominations for best director and leading actor were parceled out. The work he did with Argo could be something for the Texas military commanders might consider if they aren't simply planning to abandon the economic development workers that the state or a contractor has in Mexico.







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