Relations with the United States improve as drug violence continues to plague Mexico was the message Jim Kuykendall, political officer at the U.S. Consulate in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico shared with students last week.
Kuykendall gave a presentation outlining the roles of Mexico and the United States in an ever-improving bilateral relationship Thursday evening as part of Communication Week.
Kuykendall said it is vital to recognize the importance of Mexico to the United States.
“Mexico is the third largest U.S. trading partner,” Kuykendall said. “More than one million people and $1 billion cross the border everyday.”
Kuykendall said traffic across the border is not one way. Positives and negatives move between the two countries.
Mexico and the U.S. collaborate bilaterally on a host of issues from economics to judicial reform.
He said the Mexican Drug Wars charge both countries with heightened responsibilities to cooperate.
Kuykendall said drug violence in Mexico has had a devastating affect on the country.
“It has completely changed,” Kuykendall said. “It’s tragic.”
Kuykendall said more than 35,000 murders were linked to warring cartels in 2010, including 14 mayors and 11 journalists.
“Four blocks away from my house police found four headless bodies,” Kuykendall said.
The United States made a $1.4 billion commitment to support Mexico’s plan to keep the pressure on criminals.
Mexican President Felipe Calderón added pressure on cartels last year, along with increasing extradition of offenders resulted in the capture of 40 percent of Mexico’s most wanted, Kuykendall said. He said few cartel leaders are prosecuted within Mexico’s borders and extradition has become a useful tool in prosecution and tracking.
“It is not a one-sided issue,” Kuykendall said. “The U.S. is responsible for a lot of money and guns going south. We have seen successes across the board in cooperation to track weapons, stop money laundering and prosecute criminals.”
Nathan Salazar, criminal justice senior, said Kuykendall’s presentation was valuable to the university and the community.
“With 25 percent Hispanic enrollment, we are uneducated on things that affect us as a whole,” Salazar said.
However, he said Kuykendall’s depiction of the relationship between the two countries as bilateral reached too far.
“There is not much Hispanic leadership,” he said. “The United States takes the lead.”
Abraham Vasquez, management junior, said he thinks the United States is the dominant force in international relations.
“I could see Mexico trying to take the lead, but there is just too much going on right now,” Vasquez said. “It’s unfortunate.”
Gilbert Mejia, accounting senior, agreed. He said Americans think of Mexico as a “little brother of the United States”
“The U.S. is proposing all the solutions,” Mejia said.
Vasquez said assistance from the United States could be valuable to Mexico if it is utilized correctly.
“Pumping money into the country doesn’t solve the problem,” Vasquez said.
Kuykendall said cooperation between the two countries has been, and will continue to be strong as the governments address issues on both sides of the border with shared responsibility. He said Mexico is active in the fight for law and order, better education, and improved quality of life for its’ citizens.