Wars between rival drug cartels have plagued Mexico for years and were a hot topic when Mexican President Felipe Calderon recently paid a visit to President Obama at the White House. The U.S. plays an integral role in the drug cartel problems, since most of the drugs they traffic are U.S.-bound and most of the weapons they use are U.S.-made.
President Obama acknowledged the U.S. has to "do more" to combat the flow of weapons into Mexico and to stem Americans' desire for trafficked drugs like cocaine and marijuana. U.S. gun rights laws are one hurdle to overcome as both countries work to ensure that fewer weapons make their way to Mexico.
Mexico's tourism industry and national security have suffered greatly as a result of the ongoing drug wars, and many U.S. officials and State Department workers have been targeted by the warring gangs. Therefore, the drug cartel issue has become an urgent one for both countries but remains difficult to solve.
"If we can find a means of sealing ports of entry along the border, through the use of non-intrusive mechanisms for detection, we could assuredly have the safe and secure border that both nations want. I think it's a way of ensuring security without affecting the Second Amendment rights of U.S. citizens and, at the same time, stopping the flow of drugs northbound, monies and guns southbound." - Mexican President Felipe Calderon
"We are very mindful that the battle President Calderon is fighting inside of Mexico is not just his battle. It's also ours. We have to take responsibility, just as he's taking responsibility." - U.S. President Barack Obama
1. Why is cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico important?
2. Historically, what have been some points that the U.S. and Mexico have disagreed on?
3. What are drug cartels? What do they fight over?
1. How do U.S. gun laws conflict with Mexico's request to stem weapons coming from the U.S.? Do you think the two countries will be able to find a compromise on this point? Why or why not?
2. How do you think the weapons and drug problems facing the U.S. and Mexico could be solved?
3. Why do you think drug cartels target U.S. officials and other public figures? How does that help their operations?