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Great Decisions: Mexican Drug Cartels discussed

February 10, 2012

Kimarri Campbell /The Courier - Members of the Monmouth community sit with students and faculty to discuss gang violence, drug lords and the current state of the Mexican Government.

Students, faculty and members of the community come together to discuss the causes, the history and the growing problem of drug cartels in Mexico.

The latest part of the Great Decisions series of discussions took place on Wednesday, Feb. 8 in the Tartan room. At 7:30 that evening, amidst the clattering of Scotland Yard’s closing hours, a group of Monmouth residents and students were led by professors Heather Brady and Tim Gaster in a discussion about an issue that people have been hearing about more and more in recent years: Mexican drug cartels.

As was standard with the series, those present were briefly brought up to speed on the subject by the leaders.

“I’m going to give you a brief, fifteen minute history of Mexico,” Tim Gaster said. He then went on to go about a rapid-fire description of the past events leading up to the current situation, from the lack of Spanish control in Northern Mexico in the days of colonization to the current loss of American factory jobs to China. Going into debt to throw off Spanish control, the resulting power vacuum leading to inexperienced military leaders coming into power and finally the corruption of today’s political leaders were all cited as events leading up to the cartel situation of today.

Brady then took up the presentation to share her experiences living in the town of Autolinga last May during a takeover by one of the cartels.

Returning to the town in December to reconnect with the families of several Monmouth residents, she saw the town as it was fully under their control. It was a situation that was almost impossible to learn about from the newspapers or official media, as none would dare write about the cartel’s actions out of fear.

“Taxi drivers are the best source of information,” Brady said.

Despite this, the people of the town felt little fear in their everyday lives. There was no means of government protection, so the only way to keep the more violent cartels from the town was the presence of a rival.

After a five minute break, the group reconvened to discuss the possibilities to eliminate or at least lessen the problems in Mexico and their effect on the US. The group went over everything from the legalization of marijuana to the basic education of the average Mexican and even the role of the Catholic Church in the situation.

“So many people have a vested interest in the Mexican government and what we can do to help,” said senior Kyle McEwen.

“It’s a complex situation,” said Gaster after the presentation. “There is no one solution that will solve the problem. As neighbors, we need to know and understand each other.”

Mike Fenton
Contributing Writer

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