[Oral history of Juan Fernando Osorio, Special Assistant to the President of Mexico]
0845: Good morning amigos. It is an honor to sit before you. I have both a written statement in Spanish and English to ensure that history may more accurately judge the meaning of my words should I make an error. While English is not my first language, it is now the common language of all and a great unifier.
As we have discussed previously, I shall continue with the morning following the assassination of the President of the United States.
President González was able to reach the Vice President at about 5:00 in the morning Mexico City time which I believe is 7:00 AM in Washington, D.C. He was initially told that the Vice President appreciated his call and they would talk soon. President González made it very clear that he was deeply concerned about naval action from the San Diego base. There were rumors that the United States was blaming Mexico for the assassination and that his military staff was suggesting action he would have deemed unimaginable just hours before.
The Vice President immediately was on the phone. President González expressed his condolences and promised whatever help Mexico could offer. The Vice President assured him that the United States has no reason to believe Mexico had any part in what was happening in California. In fact, they were trying very hard to sort things out themselves and would appreciate any intelligence the Mexican government could share. The entire call lasted perhaps five minutes.
President González directed me to contact the heads of the four major television networks and be prepared for a broadcast from the president within the hour that was of vital national importance Additionally, the AtHoc earthquake detection system was to be activated allowing radio stations to connect automatically to the president.
The president began his address at about 8:00.
“My fellow citizens. As you are no doubt aware, the president of the United States has been killed. Also, there are reports of fighting throughout California. This morning I spoke to the Vice President of the United States to offer Mexico’s condolences on the death of the American president and to offer our assistance. To my shock and disbelief, the Vice President told me that Mexico is believed to be responsible for these reprehensible actions!”
“Please be assured that this is not true! While the completion of the Wall and punitive trading arrangements has strained our relationship, we would not and did not have anything to do with these events!”
“My heart is sad beyond belief. But now I must consider what comes next because my job is to protect the citizens of Mexico whether they are in their home country or are in America. I will not stand by as our friends and families are put in harm’s way.”
“Last night a battle group sailed from the naval base in San Diego including the carrier Barack Obama. We believe this battle group is maneuvering to be in range of the Naval Base at Octava within the next several days. We do not know what has driven the Americans to such primitive behavior but we will resist with all our might.”
“When the risk to Mexico became clear last night, elements of our Special Forces Brigades crossed into the United States and have taken positions near the navel base. This includes both land and sea forces.”
“I have directed Armored Fighting Vehicles, along with associated troops, to breach the Wall at Tijuana and proceed to capture and hold the naval base at San Diego. Helicopters stationed at Base Aérea Militar El Ciprés will act in support. Our brave troops have also crossed into the United States at Mexicali and now hold Interstate Highway 8.
“My fellow citizens. I know many of you have relatives in San Diego. I would ask you to contact them to welcome our brave military. Please help them be safe. If you would be willing to help our military in some small way, please hang a Mexican flag by your door.”
“It is our sincere wish and desire that the upheaval and devilish acts that we see playing out with our neighbor and friend to the north are soon remedied and sanity once again gains control over California. In the meantime, as your president, I vow to keep you safe and to ensure that the government currently in control of the United States military is unable to take actions against Mexico for a heinous crime we did not do.”
“¡La Patria es Primero! (The Fatherland is First)”
It was an excellent speech, if I do say so. President González had practiced it for almost two weeks to make certain every expression and vocal nuance was perfect. The president is not one who normally takes criticism well, but he worked very hard to give the speech of his lifetime. We had argued over many small points but I am proud to see that he was correct in all cases. It was brilliant.
Almost immediately we received reports of Mexican flags appearing all over San Diego. Interstate 5 North, Interstate 805 North, and Interstate 15 North were immediately jammed. This had been planned for. Armored Fighting Vehicles pushed any crashed or otherwise disabled vehicles off the road as they moved north.
Meanwhile Special Forces operatives heavily damaged the Coronado Bridge. Explosives had been planted several weeks earlier in boxes labeled “Air Quality Testing.” All of the boxes detonated but the Team Leader decided to stay on task for approximately another twenty minutes to detonate additional ordinance and further disable the bridge. Several vessels from the nearby Naval Amphibious Base engaged the team on exfil with the loss of two Special Forces operators by small arms fire. The resulting damage to the Coronado Bridge effectively isolated the Naval Amphibious Base and Naval Air Station North.
The actual assault on the naval base was somewhat anticlimactic. As they said on that old American television show with Mr. T — I love it when a plan comes together. With very few ships in harbor to protect, and most of the sailors actually there to perform administrative functions, many simply left the base particularly as Mexican flags began to outnumber American flags. Many of the sailors who remained at the base where children of Mexican parents and saw our troops as liberators. We heard numerous stories of how grown children of parents illegally in the United States finally had their vengeance on a government that had become more and more hateful.
Sailors who were captured were housed at the Ramada San Diego National City. Officers were housed at the Rodeway Inn National City San Diego South. The officers were none too happy with the arrangement and raised quite a fuss to be moved to the Hilton San Diego Bayfront. They were politely told “no” — requiring a dentist but not a doctor.
Much of the base infrastructure remained intact including electricity and water. The base radar was still functioning as were telephones and Internet. There were certainly some Mexican-American heroes that day who protected key elements of infrastructure from destruction or sabotage.
One of the more interesting phone calls received by the base was from the General Dynamics facility on Mission Gorge Road. It seems the manager was concerned about their IT contracts with the base and who should be billed. He was told to call back in two days which seemed to make him happy. In the meantime, he said, he would be glad to have some of his people check out their facilities although he might need a Visa card for payment. [Laughter]
The taking of Interstate Highway 8 also went along quickly. Initially, the biggest problems were from stupid people asking stupid questions like “can’t I get through? I have a wedding to attend!” It didn’t take long before Mexican forcers were joined by the Arizona Army National Guard (AZARNG) who seemed somewhat upset. First to arrive were members of the 850th Military Police Battalion who had been given the mission to make contact with the Mexican commander and determine his intentions. They met briefly at Camacho’s Place restaurant in El Centro. The American officer was not at all happy with what he heard and left rather hurriedly I understand.
At that point, things got much busier with a number of Apache helicopter reconnaissance flights along with the arrival of a significant number of troops and armored vehicles. However, the Americans remained at a five mile distance from Mexican troops trying to sort out who was in charge and what their orders actually were.
To make matters worse for the Americans, riots and marches were happening all over the Phoenix area. A massive protest blocked Interstate 10 leaving Phoenix. Many hundreds of Mexican-Americans parked their cars, trucks, vans, and RVs on the Interstate effectively preventing any movement by AZARNG. A concrete company operated by a Mexican-American managed to drive five concrete trucks onto the Interstate. After dumping the concrete on the roadway, they parked their trucks and brought out cases of beer. It was quite a fiesta or so I was told.
It should be said that the local news media in both California and Arizona wholeheartedly believed in President González’ assertion that Mexico needed to be protected from the rabid dog that America had become. #RABIDDOG trended on Twitter and helped fuel the pent up hatred that Mexican-Americans felt for the government of the United States. I suspect the planners had a role in this.
A rumor emerged on Twitter that a Mexican family living illegally in Phoenix was murdered by AZARNG troops searching for conspirators. The rumor was untrue, of course, but a GoFundMe page raised over $30,000 in under four hours. It turned out that a Mexican sergeant was sitting in a cantina in El Centro when he decided that creating a rumor might be both fun and profitable.
Something else of interest was the importance of the border Wall. For the entire operation to succeed, it would be important for Mexico to have as many people as possible within the borders of the United States. The wall made it much simpler to ensure Mexican citizens in the United States didn’t flee to Mexico to escape whatever additional chaos was likely to ensue. From a military perspective, it allowed commanders to create high ground defensible positions all along the Wall. In particular, there is a stretch of Interstate 8 to the east of Mexicali where the Wall runs right along the Interstate. That proved key in slowing the advance of troops from Phoenix toward San Diego.
In the end, we certainly knew that our troops would be defeated by American troops once they had sufficient time to plan and mobilize. On the other hand, we also knew any such action wouldn’t likely come for perhaps several weeks or maybe several months. If there was ever a time for paralysis by analysis, this was it and we counted upon it heavily.
President González asked for and received an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council to consider condemning the United States for its unwarranted aggression against Mexico. The president also asked for United Nations troops to be deployed as a buffer between Mexican and American forces to ensure an accidental escalation did not occur.
As the days went buy, Twitter and other social media forums began to work their magic creating high levels of support for Mexico’s right to protect itself from the evil and out of control government of the United States. It became evident that people who were not Mexican-Americans were leaving the San Diego area as quickly as they could. Some sold their homes at below market prices and some simply boarded them up in hopes of returning.
Within a month, both Phoenix and San Diego looked like a Mexican city.
“¡Viva México! Viva la revolución”