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News Link • Drug War

Born Into Cellblocks

•, Charles Bowden

Violence seems to love the line running through the Rio Grande at the twin cities of Laredo, Texas, and Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas.

The Mexican community was born in the humiliation of the US-Mexican War. When the peace treaty left the Spanish colonial town of Laredo on the American side of the river, Mexican patriots decamped to the southern bank and, legend has it, took their buried dead with them. That favorite murder song "The Streets of Laredo" migrated from Great Britain ("The Unfortunate Rake") to New Orleans ("St. James Infirmary") and to Texas, where it mutated into the classic cowboy ballad of dying by the gun. As I walked out in the streets of Laredo, As I walked out in Laredo one day, I spied a poor cowboy wrapped up in white linen, Wrapped up in white linen, as cold as the clay.

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