by Dick Mauer
by Dick Mauer
Some in the early 80s I was sent to Ponce, Puerto Rico, with a Border Patrol contingent, to provide security at Ft. Allen, an old army base near Ponce. The U.S. State Department had designated Ft. Allen as a detention facility for the Haitians and Cubans then flooding the country. As State was in charge, it was a cluster to start and they sent a bunch of us up to San Juan while they got unscrewed. We were to occupy our time working with INS investigators.
I was assigned to work with a San Juan native Jose "Joe" Monje. Joe's nickname was "the Governor" because he was a non-practicing attorney who knew everyone on the island. My first day out on the street working area control (what the Border Patrol called City Patrol) has Joe driving because I quickly noticed there was not one street sign in San Juan. How you would ever find your way around if you were not born and raised there is beyond me. Anyway, that first day Joe says, "see that guy sweeping the sidewalk? He's a Dominican. I'll drop you off and drive past him and come back on the sidewalk from the other side. As soon as we get to him put cuffs on him." We grab him, he's a Dominican. We take him back to the office and lock him up. Now we're back on the street and Joe says, "see that guy painting the door? He's a Dominican. We'll do the same thing and get the cuffs on him fast." We grab him, he's Dominican, we process him and lock him up. We're getting ready to hit the street again and I had to ask Joe a question. "Wait a minute, these 2 guys look like everyone else in Puerto Rico and I've been doing this for 20 years. How are you spotting them?" Joe looked at me and smiled, "you just have to understand Puerto Rico. If someone is doing scut work here, they're a Dominican."