WHAT DID VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN DO IN MEXICO AND HONDURAS?

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

Vice President Biden interviews with Telemundo, Univisión, and CNN en Español

Vice President Biden interviewed with Telemundo, Univisión and CNN en Español this week after returning from a visit to Mexico and Honduras as part of the administration’s sustained, high-level engagement with the Americas. The Vice President’s visit comes in advance of the President’s participation in the Summit of the Americas this April in Colombia, which will focus on leveraging Hemispheric connections and partnerships to improve the lives of people throughout the region.

In addition to discussing his visit, the Vice President talked about the DREAM Act, immigration reform, and what it meant to him to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe – one of the most visited Roman Catholic sites in the world and the most holy Roman Catholic site in Mexico.

Both Telemundo and Univision will air larger portions of the interview on their Sunday shows Enfoque and Al Punto so tune in, but here are clips of the interviews they have already run.

Take a look at the Vice President’s comments to Jose Diaz Balart from Telmundo: On the DREAM ActOn his visit to the Basilica

To see the Vice President’s interview with CNN en Español: Click Here

For an excerpt of the Vice President’s comments to Maria Elena Salinas from Univisión: Click Here

To read more about the Vice President’s trip to Mexico and Honduras Click Here, and for a blog post on his visit to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe Click Here.

See a slideshow of the Vice President’s triphere.

READ MORE: From Luis Miranda the White House Director of Hispanic Media

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HOW TO SOLVE ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION?

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

SOURCE: AP/Charles Rex Arbogast

An Opinion On How to Solve Illegal Immigration. What is Your Opinion and Would

This Be Enough? You Be the Judge and Leave a Comment!

Of all the issues Congress confronts, the most solvable and the one that would do the most to help our nation grow and prosper — with the possible exception of energy — is immigration reform.

We are a nation that has always drawn much of its strength from having people come here and add to the energy and prosperity of the country. The immigrants who have chosen to make the difficult and challenging choice to move to America have often been some of the most productive citizens of the countries they left behind.

They are, by nature, driven people who were willing to take the risk of pulling up roots and moving. As a result, the United States has, for the most part, gotten the benefit of talented and committed citizens who have raised our culture and our standard of living.

Our national policy should continue to encourage immigration. This is why we need an immigration policy that deals with the reality of our times and continues to reinvigorate our nation by bringing in new people.

Yet for reasons purely political and counterproductive, a reasonable immigration policy has been sidetracked by the desire of both Democratic and Republican officeholders and candidates to score points with groups that have no interest in effective policy but simply have single-issue concerns that have turned into non-debatable hyperbole.

It is not rocket science to know how to set up an effective immigration policy. The parameters are clear. The policy needs to encourage legal immigration that helps our nation prosper.

There are five steps to doing it:

• First, we need to secure the borders. Although progress has been made, the border with Mexico where most illegal immigrants cross is still not secure. It is inexcusable that the resources and technology needed to stop the flow are not in place. All it takes is funding and commitment.

• Second, there needs to be an effective and friendly guest-worker program. This allows people who need work to come here where there are jobs not being done by Americans.

• Third, once we have an effective guest-worker program, there needs to be a dramatic increase in surveillance and prosecution of businesses that employ people who are not here legally. There should be a significant price to pay for an employer that exploits people and encourages people to enter the country illegally.

• Fourth, there needs to be a new regime for attracting talented people to come here and stay here. We should say to the best and the brightest around the world that if they wish to come to America, we are interested in having them come. If they are already studying here, we are interested in having them stay. Instead, we say the opposite.

As Bill Gates says, every time he hires a talented individual from another country to work here it benefits America two ways. First, the individual usually ends up being a center around whom jobs are created, and second, it keeps him or her from being an overseas competitor.

• Fifth, we need to deal in a humane and reasonable way with the millions of people who are already here illegally. If they have acted inappropriately while here, then we should send them back to their native lands, but obviously that would be a small number of people.

We cannot deport millions of people, most of whom are hardworking and living quiet, orderly lives. We also cannot allow them, as a result of their illegal entry, to become citizens. This would violate the basic premise of following the rule of law that is a key standard of citizenship.

But there is a logical, fair and reasonable resolution to this conundrum. It is to allow these people, after they have agreed to some reasonable action, either through community service or fines, to compensate for their violation of the law when they entered the country to obtain a “blue card.” This blue card would give them legal status but not citizenship.

(I would add that for those that are undocumented under the age of 18 or are now older but came when they were under the age of 18 should not be penalized. -JMG)

It is time to push aside those in the political arena who wish to use immigration primarily as an election tool and do not seek or tolerate rational action. It is time to move forward with a policy that will make us more competitive, add to our economy and our culture and continue to lift our nation and give us the unique strength that comes from being a country built on the character of the people who immigrate here.

Judd Gregg is a former governor and three-term senator from New Hampshire who served as chairman and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and as ranking member of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Foreign Operations. He also is an international adviser to Goldman Sachs.

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Read More: http://thehill.com/opinion/columnists/judd-gregg/214011-opinion-how-to-solve-illegal-immigration

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WHO ARE “THE LITTLE BROWN ONES” IN UNISON WITH THE GOP?

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

"More than five years later, Bush, who along with two siblings was dubbed one of “the little brown ones” by his grandfather, former President George H.W. Bush, is in Austin discussing how the 18-month-old Hispanic Republicans of Texas Political Action Committee, which he co-founded, moves ahead after redistricting."

 photo by: Bob Daemmrich George P. Bush, founding board member of the Hispanic Republicans of Texas, pauses at the Austin Club on March 1st, 2012

The seeds of political ascension for a member of the Bush family may have been planted in an Austin eatery whose name conjures up images of Janis Joplin jam sessions.

After Election Day in 2006, George P. Bush — the son of former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida and the nephew of former President George W. Bush — met with a friend at Threadgill’s to discuss how to propel more Hispanics within the ranks of the Republican Party.

More than five years later, Bush, who along with two siblings was dubbed one of “the little brown ones” by his grandfather, former President George H.W. Bush, is in Austin discussing how the 18-month-old Hispanic Republicans of Texas Political Action Committeewhich he co-founded, moves ahead after redistricting.

“There really wasn’t an entity that was focused on the campaign finance element of Hispanic outreach, nor was there really an entity that was doing the blocking and tackling and mechanics of educating Latinos to actually run for office,” Bush, a 35-year-old lawyer, said of the PAC’s genesis.

Its board includes lawyers, former aides to government officials, advertising executives and a professor, who are working to reach a traditionally blue-collar demographic. Bush said that is part of the message.

“They represent the American dream and are less than a generation from very humble origins,” Bush said of the board members, who have endorsed candidates from myriad backgrounds.

“This organization is also meant to be aspirational, and I think the Hispanic community is aspirational,” said Bush, whose mother is from Mexico.

Democrats say the PAC faces an uphill battle.

“They are delusional if they think they’re making any inroads with Latinos,” said Rebecca Acuña, a Texas Democratic Party spokeswoman. “In Texas, there are 668 Democratic Hispanic elected officials to the 60 in the Republican Party.”

Though Bush is careful when speaking about his own goals, he says he is inextricably linked to politics. For now, however, he is content with his role with the PAC.

His future political success could hinge on how Republicans move forward on specific issues. He supports portions of the DREAM Act, and said he thinks most Republicans would also favor at least certain aspects of it, including a pathway toward legalization for illegal immigrants if they serve in the military.

He also calls himself a “George W. Bush” Republican on other aspects of immigration reform.

“That is essentially securing the border, placing an importance on that,” he said. “In terms of folks already here? Figure out a way where they can be taken out of the shadows and contribute to society and provide an opportunity to contribute and pay their fair share.”

Like his uncle, he also supports the U.S. government’s efforts to aid Mexico in that country’s battles against organized crime.

“My opinion is that we both have a vested national security interest and increasingly [the cartel wars] are infringing upon our national security,” he said. “Therefore, collaboration at the highest level is called for and that means continued collaboration on intelligence and information-sharing.”

It was under President George W. Bush that the U.S. and Mexico signed the Mérida Initiative, an aid package of about $1.5 billion that provides equipment, technology and training to Mexico.

George P. Bush said he wishes he spoke more Spanish, his first language, but it has faded from his life due to a lack of practice. He advocates that Hispanics in America should learn English.

“Whether we like it or not, it is the language of commerce in our country,” he said. “That is not meant to be in a dispirited tone.”

Bush knows speculation about his future will persist. In some circles he has already been dubbed “47.” The talk is flattering, he said.

“I’d love to keep the door open. Politics is in my blood,” he said.

Read More: http://www.texastribune.org/texas-politics/2012-elections/george-p-aims-take-hispanics-higher-gop/

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DID MEXICO REACH A TURNING POINT IN THE DRUG WAR?

THE HISPANIC BLOG IS THE LATEST HISPANIC NEWS BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

Meth in Mexico: A Turning Point in the Drug War?

photo by cbs/associated press

The Largest Seizure of Methamphetamine in Mexican History

Mexican authorities announced Feb. 8 the largest seizure of methamphetamine in Mexican history — and possibly the largest ever anywhere — on a ranch outside of Guadalajara. The total haul was 15 tons of pure methamphetamine along with a laboratory capable of producing all the methamphetamine seized. While authorities are not linking the methamphetamine to any specific criminal group, Guadalajara is a known stronghold of the Sinaloa Federation, and previous seizures there have been connected to the group.

photo by Bruno Gonzalez from the Associated Press - A soldier stands in a room full of barrels containing white and yellow powder Thursday after the seizure of a small ranch in Tlajomulco de Zuniga, on the outskirts of Guadalajara, Mexico. According to the Mexican army, 15 tons of pure methamphetamine were seized at the ranch, an amount equivalent to half of all meth seizures worldwide in 2009.

Methamphetamine, a synthetic drug manufactured in personal labs for decades, is nothing new in Mexico or the United States. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has led numerous crusades against the drug, increasing regulations on its ingredients to try to keep it from gaining a foothold in the United States. While the DEA’s efforts have succeeded in limiting production of the drug in the United States, consumption has risen steadily over the past two decades. The increasing DEA pressure on U.S. suppliers and the growing demand for methamphetamine have driven large-scale production of the drug outside the borders of the United States. Given Mexico’s proximity and the pervasiveness of organized criminal elements seeking new markets, it makes sense that methamphetamine would be produced on an industrial scale there. Indeed, Mexico has provided an environment for a scale of production far greater than anything ever seen in the United States.

Cocaine trail ... a soldier stands guard as seized cocaine is burnt in Matamoros, Mexico. Photo: Gerardo Magallon
Authorities believe one of the world's most powerful and notorious Mexican drug cartels, the Sinaloa, has infiltrated Australia. Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/mexicos-most-wanted-man-taking-over-cocaine-trade-20100914-15azd.html#ixzz1mbdaIp9M

But last week’s methamphetamine seizure sheds light on a deeper shift in organized criminal activity in Mexico — one that could mark a breakthrough in the violent stalemate that has existed between the Sinaloa Federation, Los Zetas and the government for the past five years and has led to an estimated 50,000 deaths. It also reveals a pattern in North American organized crime activity that can be seen throughout the 20th century as well as a business opportunity that could transform criminal groups in Mexico from the drug trafficking intermediaries they are today to controllers of an independent and profitable illicit market.

Dark yellow is where Zetas control light yellow portion is disputed territory photo from wikipedia

While the trafficking groups in Mexico are commonly called “cartels,” they are not really cartels. A cartel is a combination of groups cooperating to control the supply of a commodity. The primary purpose of a cartel is to set the price of a commodity so that buyers cannot negotiate lower prices. The current conflict in Mexico over cocaine and marijuana smuggling routes shows that there are deep rifts between rival groups like the Sinaloa Federation and Los Zetas. There is no sign that they are cooperating with each other to set the price of cocaine or marijuana. Also, since most of the Mexican criminal groups are involved in a diverse array of criminal activities, their interests go beyond drug trafficking. They are perhaps most accurately described as “transnational criminal organizations” (TCOs), the label currently favored by the DEA.

Examples from the Past

photo from Hub Pages - FARC girl with gun

While the level of violence in Mexico right now is unprecedented, it is important to remember that the Mexican TCOs are businesses. They do use violence in conducting business, but their top priority is to make profits, not kill people. The history of organized crime shows many examples of groups engaging in violence to control an illegal product. During the early 20th century in North America, to take advantage of Prohibition in the United States, organized criminal empires were built around the bootlegging industry. After the repeal of Prohibition, gambling and casinos became the hot market. Control over Las Vegas and other major gambling hubs was a business both dangerous and profitable. Control over the U.S. heroin market was consolidated and then dismantled during the 1960s and 1970s. Then came cocaine and the rise in power, wealth and violence of Colombian groups like the Medellin and Cali cartels.

photo by vegasondemand.com

But as U.S. and Colombian law enforcement cracked down on the Colombian cartels — interdicting them in Colombia and closing down their Caribbean smuggling corridors — Colombian producers had to turn to the Mexicans to traffic cocaine through Mexico to the United States. To this day, however, Colombian criminal groups descended from the Medellin and Cali cartels control the cultivation and production of cocaine in South America, while Mexican groups increasingly oversee the trafficking of the drug to the United States, Europe and Africa.

The Mexican Weakness

 While violence has been used in the past to eliminate or coerce competitors and physically take control of an illegal market, it has not proved to be a solution in recent years for Mexican TCOs. The Medellin cartel became infamous for attacking Colombian state officials and competitors who tried to weaken its grasp over the cocaine market. Going back further, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel is thought to have been murdered over disagreements about his handling of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas.


The Flamingo Hotel, Las Vegas, 1946. It was Siegel's last big project. When the hotel-casino failed to bring an immediate profit, it was the end for Bugsy.

Before that, Prohibition saw numerous murders over control of liquor shipments and territory. In Mexico, we are seeing an escalating level of such violence, but few of the business resolutions that would be expected to come about as a result. Geography helps explain this. In Mexico, the Sierra Madre mountain range splits the east coast and the west from the center. The Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean coastal plains tend to develop their own power bases separate from each other.

Mexican drug traffickers are also split by market forces. With Colombian criminal groups still largely controlling the production of cocaine in jungle laboratories, Mexican traffickers are essentially middlemen. They must run the gauntlet of U.S.-led international interdiction efforts by using a combination of Central American traffickers, corruption and street-gang enforcers. They also have to move the cocaine across the U.S. border, where it gets distributed by hundreds of street gangs.

Profit is the primary motivation at every step, and each hurdle the Mexican traffickers have to clear cuts into their profit margins. The cocaine producers in Colombia, Peru and Bolivia can play the Sinaloa Federation and Los Zetas (as well as others) off of each other to strengthen their own bargaining position. And even though keeping the traffickers split appears to create massive amounts of violence in Mexico, it benefits the politicians and officials there, who can leverage at least the presence of a competitor for better bribes and payoffs.

Sinaloa cartel in dark yellow light yellow is disputed territory photo from wikipedia

For Mexican drug traffickers, competition is bad for the bottom line, since it allows other actors to exploit each side to get a larger share of the market. Essentially, everyone else in the cocaine market benefits by keeping the traffickers split. The more actors involved in cocaine trafficking, the harder it is to control it.

The Solution

Historically, organized criminal groups have relied on control of a market for their source of wealth and power. But the current situation in Mexico, and the cocaine trade in general, prevents the Mexican groups (or anyone) from controlling the market outright. As long as geography and market forces keep the traffickers split, all sides in Mexico will try to use violence to get more control over territory and market access. 

Mexican federal police lead suspected members of the 'Familia Michoacana' drug cartel to a news conference at the federal police center in Mexico City Photo: REUTERS

Mexican criminal organizations can overcome their weakness in the cocaine market by investing the money they have earned (billions of dollars, according to the most conservative estimates) into the control of other markets. Ultimately, cocaine is impossible for the Mexicans to control because the coca plant can only grow in sufficient quantity in the foothills of the Andes. It would be prohibitively expensive for the Mexicans to take over control of coca cultivation and cocaine production there. Mexican criminal organizations are increasing their presence in the heroin market, but while they can grow poppies in Mexico and produce black-tar heroin, Afghanistan still controls a dominant share of the white heroin market — around 90 percent. 

In 2009, shark carcasses were stuffed with 894 kilograms of cocaine. A month later, Costa Rican authorities also seized another 419 kilos of cocaine from a fisherman, who carried the drug in refrigerated truck, hidden beneath the layers of red snapper and shark.

What Mexicans can control is the methamphetamine market. What we are seeing in Mexico right now — unprecedented amounts of the seized drug — is reminiscent of what we saw over the past century in the infancy of the illegal liquor, gambling, heroin and cocaine markets: an organized criminal group industrializing production in or control of a loosely organized industry and using that control to set prices and increase its power. Again, while illegal methamphetamine has been produced in the United States for decades, regulatory pressure and law enforcement efforts have kept it at a small scale; seizures are typically measured in pounds or kilograms and producers are on the run.

Display of methamphetamine seized in Project Coronado: Source: DEA

Mexican producers have also been in the market for a long time, but over the past year we have seen seizures go from being measured in kilograms to being measured in metric tons. In other words, we are seeing evidence that methamphetamine production has increased several orders of magnitude and is fast becoming an industrialized process.

Credit: Photo courtesy Customs & Border Protection.
Customs and Border Patrol officials find 25 pounds of methamphetamine smuggled from Mexico in a Mercedes tire in February, 2010.

In addition to the 15 tons seized last week, we saw a record seizure of 675 tons of methylamine, a key ingredient of methamphetamine, in Mexico in December. From 2010 to 2011, seizures of precursor chemicals like methylamine in Mexico increased 400 percent, from 400 tons to 1,600 tons. These most recent reports are similar to reports in the 1920s of U.S. liquor seizures going from barrels to shiploads, which indicated bootlegging was being conducted on an industrial scale. They are also eerily similar to the record cocaine seizure in 1984 in Tranquilandia, Colombia, when Colombian National Police uncovered a network of jungle cocaine labs along with 13.8 metric tons of cocaine. It was the watershed moment, when authoritiesmoved from measuring cocaine busts in kilograms to measuring them in tons, and it marked the Medellin cartel’s rise to power over the cocaine market.

A True Mexican Criminal Industry?

generic mexico arrest handcuffs border immigration smuggling bounty (CBS/AP)

Anyone can make methamphetamine, but it is a huge organizational, financial and legal challenge to make it on the industrial level that appears to be happening in Mexico. The main difference between the U.S. labs and the Mexican labs is the kind of input chemicals they use. The U.S. labs use pseudoephedrine, a pharmaceutical product heavily regulated by the DEA, as a starting material, while Mexican labs use methylamine, a chemical with many industrial applications that is more difficult to regulate. And while pseudoephedrine comes in small individual packages of cold pills, methylamine is bought in 208-liter (55-gallon) barrels. The Mexican process requires experienced chemists who have mastered synthesizing methamphetamine on a large scale, which gives them an advantage over the small-time amateurs working in U.S. methamphetamine labs.

photo by the Joint Interagency Task Force - West

Thus, while methamphetamine consumption has been steadily growing in the United States for the past two decades — and at roughly $100 per gram, unpure methamphetamine is just as profitable on the street as cocaine — it is even more profitable for Mexican traffickers. Methamphetamine does not come with the overhead costs of purchasing cocaine from Colombians and trafficking valuable merchandise through some of the most dangerous countries in the Western Hemisphere. Precursor materials such as methylamine used in methamphetamine production are cheap, and East Asian producers appear to be perfectly willing to sell the chemicals to Mexico. And because methamphetamine is a synthetic drug, its production does not depend on agriculture like cocaine and marijuana production does. There is no need to control large swaths of cropland and there is less risk of losing product to adverse weather or eradication efforts.

In Mexico City, the military has a museum used to train officials, diplomats and cadets about the war on drugs. Samples of various drugs including cocaine are labeled in a glass case. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

For the Mexican TCOs, industrializing and controlling the methamphetamine market offers a level of real control over a market that is not possible with cocaine. We expect fighting over the methamphetamine market to maintain violence at its current levels, but once a group comes out on top it will have far more resources to expel or absorb rival TCOs. This process may not sound ideal, but methamphetamine could pick the winner in the Mexican drug war.

Read More: Stratfor

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WHO WAS THE HISPANIC WARREN MORROW?

THE HISPANIC BLOG BY JESSICA MARIE GUTIERREZ

Latino advocate Morrow dies at age 34

Warren Morrow, an advocate for Latino businesses who founded a Clive company that helps credit unions attract Hispanic members, died early Wednesday, his wife, Christina Fernandez-Morrow, said.

Morrow, a graduate of Grinnell College, was chief executive of Coopera Consulting, a firm built on the belief that by targeting Latino customers, financial institutions can both make money and help improve quality of life for the population.

He died suddenly Wednesday morning, just as his efforts in Iowa and around the country were beginning to bear fruit. A valve in his heart malfunctioned and his heart stopped, his wife said. He was 34.

Morrow was born in Mexico City to an American father and Mexican mother, and moved to Tucson, Ariz., in elementary school. His mother, a well-educated woman, struggled with the transition to American life and felt she had to work her way up from the bottom, leaving a strong impression on Morrow as he went off to college.

While at Grinnell, he founded a nonprofit called the Latino Leadership Project to help young Hispanics go to college. He eventually realized that the problem he was trying to address was at its root caused by financial instability in the Latino community. For instance, his wife said, a young Latino might forgo college to work and help pay the family’s bills.

“I came to realize that the disparity in education was a symptom of a larger problem,” Warren Morrow told the Register in 2011. “The root issues are the disparities in access to assets, access to wealth, economic stability in the household.”

Read More: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20120216/BUSINESS/302160052/1030/BUSINESS01/?odyssey=nav%7Chead

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