The Businessperson


Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story: Catron County's politics heat up as its land goes bankrupt

"You're not going to get people to tell you what's going on here for the record, because they're afraid of retaliation," one Catron County businessperson told High Country News, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"You've still got the faction running this place that's been running it for the last 100 years - the ranchers. The commissioners, the sheriffs, the people working at the county clerk's office, they're mostly ranchers. People are afraid to buck them. They control jobs, the schools - you name it. They've got a conspiracy type of deal. But they know it's coming to an end. That's why they're desperate.

"Our (county) commissioners don't give a shit about the local economy. The only thing they're interested in is making sure the cattle industry continues. They don't care about the bars, the restaurants, or any of the local businesses. Awhile back, there was a guy in office, and some of the elderly Hispanic people thought he was the reason they got their social security checks. And that's why they voted for him. People here are so oppressed they can't even make up their own minds.

"When we lost the sawmill, it hurt a lot of people. People are going to be soured, as they don't understand how a bird can take precedence over their families. Seems to me there's not much common-sense middle ground. We need our ranches, we need to utilize our resources if they're properly managed. There's a lot of good people here; a lot of good kids here, and a good community here, and we've got a handful of people that run it. That's the way it's always been and that's the way it'll be "til they start to die off. Maybe the whole son-of-a-bitch will burn down this year and we can start over."

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