Wick News Service
Oscar Antonio de la Torre Amezcua, right, from the Mexican consulate in Douglas, talks while Chad Cummins, right, from the U.S. Consulate in Nogales, Mexico, looks on during a conflict resolution seminar put on by Eastern Arizona College’s International Club and the Southern Arizona Council for International Visitors, at the Lee Little Theater, at EAC, Saturday. David Bell/Wick News Service
Chad Cummins, U.S. Consul in Nogales, Mexico, and Oscar Antonio de la Torre Amezcua, Mexican Consul in Douglas, took part in a conflict resolution seminar put on by Eastern Arizona College’s International Club and the Southern Arizona Council for International Visitors, at the Lee Little Theater, at EAC, Saturday.
“The violence has migrated east,” said Cummins, referring to the February disappearance by the police chief of a Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, a town across the border from Laredo, Texas, and the killing of that same town’s police chief two years ago.
“I’ve been in Douglas for six years and about nine months, and I’ve never seen a problem on either side of the border,” Amezcua said.
Both officials did acknowledge that violence continues to exist along the Mexico-Arizona border, but, “If you are not in the (drug) business, you have no reason to be afraid,” Amezcua said.
Cummins said about 90 percent of the drug trafficking profit through the Nogales corridor is from marijuana. But, he said, people should be focusing on other economic issues.
“Mexico has become a manufacturing powerhouse,” Cummins said. “A lot of the U.S. companies that went to China 20-30 years ago are now moving to Mexico.”
The result, Cummins said, is a decrease in illegal immigration — “My guess is more people have left the U.S. than have come up,” he said — since Mexico can now provide better paying jobs. And U.S. manufacturing is rising to meet the demand for the small components used in the Mexican manufacturing.
Despite the positive economic outlook presented by both consuls, the audience of about 75 kept returning to the issue of violence along the border and in Mexico, asking what is being done to put an end to the bloodshed.
Neither offered specifics, other than to point to improved cooperation between the two countries.
“We have to stop the river of drugs coming to the United States through Mexico. But we also have to do something about the consumption,” Amezcua said. “We have to work together.”
“As my fellow consul said, the U.S. imports drugs and exports weapons. And it’s hurt both countries,” Cummins said. “The hope of both countries is to see a reduction in the violence that comes with that.”
On its Web site, the Southern Arizona Council for International Visitors — formerly the Tucson Council for International Visitors — details its mission as promoting “excellence in citizen diplomacy,” tailored around professional and cultural programs.