My personal opinion is that the strategy was faulty. When Pres. Calderon took office and declared war on the cartels and on organized crime, he didn’t realize fully the strength of the opposition and the resources they had. There was a misjudgment about how quickly such a strategy could dismantle these groups. Drugs are an important part of the issue. There are other things these criminal syndicates do. They are involved in extortion, kidnapping, prostitution, migrant smuggling. They have a varied business scheme, though drugs is the driving source because of the consumption in the U.S. we haven’t been able to convince the U.S. to do more about their own internal problem of drug demand. Drugs always go through the weakest link in the chain. That has been Mexico, but now it is becoming Central America, Guatemala, Belize. As long as we have the combination of the demand and the illegality it will be ripe for criminals to get involved. We have not heard about strategy from the candidates. There is a fear in Washington that the strategy will change. Mexico has been a jumping off point for drugs into the U.S. for as long as I have been alive. We shouldn’t be doing the U.S.’s dirty work in Mexico. Should the military be brought back into the barracks? It is an open question. They are not trained for this.
Q: Do Mexicans consume drugs now?
There is a growing problem with Mexican consumption as a result of traffickers paying in kind (cocaine and methamphetamines). We should be worried about our own security and not spending as much time and resources in interdicting the flow of drugs into the U.S. Why? Because the consumption in the U.S. hasn’t changed, even despite the billions of dollars spent on interdiction. The human cost is too great -- 50,000 people in the last five years have died. We didn’t have these levels of violence that we have today. This is a business and they will defend the business. The drug business in Mexico is worth $3-$6-billion a year, 8 % of our GDP.
Q: How independent is the judiciary?
Much more than it was 10 years ago. Legislative branch is as well. There is a real separation of powers. Congress if very independent. At the national level, the judiciary has improved. At the lower levels, still a lot of work to be done.
Q: What about the visa issue?
In the beginning the Mexicans were caught off-guard and were quite upset by this. I am hopeful that now, with the changes in refugee and immigration legislation in Canada, we can get rid of the visa requirement. In the meantime, I have been pushing to reduce the number of visas needed. Could Canada allow Mexicans who are trusted travellers in the U.S. to be exempt? This hasn’t happened yet but there is no reason it shouldn’t.
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