jueves, 14 de abril de 2011

Expert pessimistic on Mexico's future

by David Burge El Paso Times

Posted: 04/12/2011 12:00:00 AM MDT

George Grayson of the College of William and Mary, spoke about the narco-violence in Mexico and the dual sovereignty system of governance sought by cartels. An expert on Latin America said he is increasingly pessimistic about Mexico's future and its ability to end rampant violence from warring drug cartels.

George W. Grayson, a professor of government at the College of William & Mary, told about 100 people attending a border security conference at UTEP on Monday that average Mexican citizens are "feeling increasingly impotent" about their ability to change their country. The Mexican elite also "doesn't care a rat's a-- about the average citizen,"

Grayson said in an interview after his lecture. Warring cartels in Mexico are also becoming more fragmented, he said. For those who want to negotiate, that will make it tougher to find the right crime bosses to cut a deal with.

"Now it's too many, and it's a changing cast of characters," he said.

Grayson was one of the highlighted speakers during the first day of the fourth annual Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence Colloquium. This year, the conference is focusing on border security issues along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The idea is to create a dia-logue and an exchange of ideas, said Mark Gorman, program coordinator for the Intelligence and National Security Studies Program at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Grayson said that the Mexican federal government only collects about 12 percent of the country's gross domestic product in taxes, which is about half of what the United States does and a third of Brazil's tax level.

That leaves very little revenue for improving the quality of life through regional planning, improved health care and job training, Grayson said. Mexico's 2012 presidential election may have little impact as well, he said.

Enrique Peña Nieto, the governor of Mexico state, is leading all the polls, Grayson said. "It's his to lose," he said. However, Peña Nieto has been tight-lipped about his plans in dealing with the cartels, Grayson said.

"Mexico's future lies with Mexico," Grayson said.

"There is no magic dust that the United States can sprinkle on that country. It comes down to having decent education for children. It's about quality health care. It's about regional development and job training. Sure, it can be a cooperative venture, but it's Mexicans who will decide Mexico's future."

Grayson also contrasted the low crime rates in U.S. border cities like El Paso to the bloodbath that is going on in Mexico. He joked that at first he thought it was a Chamber of Commerce plot to keep tourists coming to places like El Paso. But many Mexican officials, including members of drug cartels, live in the United States and they don't want to force U.S. military intervention by extending the violence to north of the border, Grayson said.

"They don't want U.S. boots on the ground in Mexico," he said. UTEP graduate student Christiaan Renée is majoring in intelligence and national security studies. He said the conference is addressing issues that are pertinent to El Paso, Juárez, the entire Southwest border and the nation.

"From what I understand, more people are being killed in Juárez and the state of Chihuahua than in Iraq and Afghanistan combined," Renée said. "We have lots of Mexican businesses that are relocating to El Paso or at least setting up a base of operations here because of the cartels or extortion."

The conference will continue from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. today at UTEP's El Paso Natural Gas Conference Center across from the university library. The public can attend; admission is free.

David Burge may be reached at dburge@elpasotimes.com ; 546-6126.

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