Hello? Is there anybody out there?
by Louie Palu 1/28/2013 5:50:48 PM
Hi Louie, thanks for joining us today
by Melissa Whetstone 1/28/2013 5:51:43 PM
We'll get started in about 5 minutes. Readers are welcome to start leaving their questions for award-winning photojournalist Louie Palu about his series on Mexico.
by Melissa Whetstone 1/28/2013 5:54:19 PM
Ok, here is our first reader question, looking for your take on solutions to the drug trade problems plaguing Mexico
by Melissa Whetstone 1/28/2013 6:00:33 PM
From what I have seen one of the fundamental problems is the impunity in Mexico. Meaning very few people are arrested for serious crimes in Mexico and even fewer go to jail for them. Overhauling and modernizing the justice system in Mexico should be the first priority. There is no silver bullet solution for this problem. Marijuana production in Canada for Canadian use seems to exceed any marijuana coming from Mexico to Canada. Cocaine, heroin and meth are the real profit makers for Mexican cartels.
by Louie Palu 1/28/2013 6:04:19 PM
Our next reader question:
by Melissa Whetstone 1/28/2013 6:05:27 PM
The drug cartels are complex and highly organized. Though decriminalizing drugs might put a dent in their profits they will find a new way of making money. Legalizing marijuana is one worthy discussion, however the extreme nature of meth, cocaine and heroin will make it a challenge to control. Infamous Chicago based mobster Al Capone went to jail for tax evasion and legalizing alcohol turned the Italian based organized criminals to casinos resulting in Las Vegas, the biggest money laundering scheme in history.
by Louie Palu 1/28/2013 6:08:45 PM
Another question for you:
by Melissa Whetstone 1/28/2013 6:10:07 PM
The source of the majority of the guns, which are mainly AK-47 and AR-15 assault rifles clearly points to the United States with both Mexican and American criminals participating in gun smuggling. Military grade weapons and ammunition in the U.S. are relatively easy to get, especially in border-states like Arizona and Texas. These weapons combined with billions of dollars in profits make these cartels more powerful than almost any organized crime groups in history.
by Louie Palu 1/28/2013 6:12:07 PM
This next question comes from a reader who will be living in one of the areas you visited:
by Melissa Whetstone 1/28/2013 6:14:08 PM
Culiacan is a large city in Sinaloa state which is a beautiful place, however it is also the birthplace and headquarters of some of the most powerful drug cartels in the world. I covered 48 murders in 2 weeks there. There is active conflict going on all over the state, mostly between drug cartels. Once you leave the city and go into rural areas the risk of violence is high. Though the state does have one of the lowest kidnapping rates in the country. I had no trouble there. One thing I learned when comparing my years of work in Afghanistan to Mexico. In Afghanistan the trouble always comes looking for you, in Mexico you only get the trouble you go looking for.
by Louie Palu 1/28/2013 6:19:27 PM
What specific precautions did you take when you travelled there, Louie?
by Melissa Whetstone 1/28/2013 6:22:46 PM
In Mexico people associated with the church are highly respected, even by the drug cartels. Journalists are another story, Mexico is one of the world leaders for numbers of journalists killed. I constantly changed my appearance, routes of travel and places I stayed. I was always on the move. I also made it clear when I was in public that I was a journalist and not any form of law enforcement. I also worked in groups of journalists, safety in numbers seems to work well.
by Louie Palu 1/28/2013 6:26:15 PM
Here's our next reader question:
by Melissa Whetstone 1/28/2013 6:26:51 PM
At the moment things look pretty dark, I really think the situation is so bad that I can't estimate a timeline. Like I said earlier, the Mexican justice system needs to be modernized, overhauled and also made to work, impunity in Mexico is the fundamental problem that allows the cartels to operate. Education would also help, many police officers in Mexico don't even have their high school education. Monterrey is a wonderful city, sadly it is also the frontline between two cartels fighting one another with the Mexican police and army in the middle making it a four way battle. Tamaulipas state next door is barely under government control if at all.
by Louie Palu 1/28/2013 6:32:17 PM
And with that, we are out of time. Thanks very much Louie for joining us today and taking the time to chat with our readers, and thanks to all our readers who submitted questions
by Melissa Whetstone 1/28/2013 6:35:17 PM
Thank you for having me online
by Louie Palu 1/28/2013 6:35:42 PM
You can see Louie's photos, read his stories and watch video here: www.theglobeandmail.com
by Melissa Whetstone 1/28/2013 6:36:38 PM
Award-winning photojournalist Louie Palu took reader questions on drugs, organized crime, guns and poverty in Mexico's border regions
by Philippe Devos edited by Melissa Whetstone 1/28/2013 6:39:30 PM