UH Professor Talks About Mexican Cartels

It seems like every day there's news of violence in Mexico. Here in the U.S., many worry it will spill over the border. A University of Houston professor knows the situation first hand and has an idea how it can be controlled. Bill Stamps spoke with him and has this report.
UH History Professor John Bart was going to write a book at the Mexican drug cartels — then he decided that may not be a smart thing to do. He won’t say exactly how he got all his information.

"Let’s just say I got extremely high, higher than anyone from the FBI has gotten into the Sinaloa Cartel."

Professor Bart believes both the U.S. and Mexican government are going about solving the violence problem all wrong. A problem he believes started with the North American Free Trade Agreement, better known as NAFTA. He says when American farmers began selling corn in Mexico, many of the farmers there couldn’t make a living, and in came the cartels with an alternative.

"And they’d go into these villages where the peasants can’t sell their corn anymore and say 'look we’ll give you these bag of seeds and we’ll come back in March, or whatever month it would be, after you’ve harvested and we’ll give you a hundred thousand dollars.' And the peasants say 'wow yeah.'"

Bart says most of the killings are taking place along the border, areas of high drug trafficking. He says the Mexican government has basically removed the local police, so even thugs who have nothing to do with drugs or cartels can commit crimes and not have to worry much about being caught. He believes that’s what happened in the recent falcon lake case where an American man disappeared while boating with his wife.

"Those guys can screw around now like that because there’s no local authority to arrest them. But before there was. And so then you or I are walking down the street with our sister and they kidnap her because they’re out of control and there’s no local law enforcement. And that’s the mistake you make when you go to the state level for law enforcement."

As for all the violence, Governor Rick Perry says enough is enough.

"It's creeping closer and closer to seeing Americans killed on the American side of the border. And at that particular point and time, no longer are citizens going to sit back say this is a Mexican problem. It’s not a Mexican problem. This is a U.S. and Mexican problem that we need to deal with together. But allowing our citizens to lose their lives because of Washington’s inaction is irresponsible."

It’s well known Perry is for strengthening the border. But Professor Bart says that won’t stop the violence one bit. Without decreasing the demand for drugs, he predicts things will stay the same with areas like Mexico City being relatively safe, and border areas being deadly lawless where someone can simply disappear and nothing is done about it.