"Who’s going to invest in a country where possibly one of your executives might be kidnapped or killed?"
Stephen Zamora is a University of Houston law professor who has written about U.S.—Mexico relations. He says while things are bad on that side of the border, they’re not as bad as they may seem to Americans who get their information from watching the news.
"The figure I’ve read is that the homicide rate in Mexico City is lower than that in Washington DC. Do people worry about going to Washington DC, because the homicide rate is higher than Mexico City? No. Mexico is far from being a failed state. It’s a troubled state, but the violence in Mexico is very localized, but it’s very troubling and it weakens the entire society."
Professor Zamora says because of drugs, the violence in the border areas is definitely out of control, but he says the lack of a good law enforcement and court system makes matters even worse. And that has nothing to do with drugs.
"Police protection and criminal investigation and prosecution in Mexico is very sick. There is a lot of corruption, inefficiency, lack of equipment, and that has to be dealt with and to tell you the truth I’m not sure Mexico can deal with it entirely on its own. I think Mexico has to be prepared to accept help. Now that doesn’t mean you give up your sovereignty. I mean when you have a problem with a neighbor next door to you and it involves a tree, you don’t say 'well I’m going to deal with that myself.' If the tree is in fact between both lots, the best thing is to try to deal with it the two of you."
What kind of help does he think is needed?
"You know not helicopters and military force, but just basic police capability. These problems are not going to be dealt with only by military force. They have to be deal with by institutional changes that Mexico has to make and I think the United States and Mexico’s other allies have an investment to try to help the country make those institutional changes."
Because of the corruption and inadequate court system Zamora says it’s often hard to bring perpetrators to justice. But he says catching the cartel leaders sends a message, the country isn’t giving up.