On April 1, hours after Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano outlined new plans to bolster border security by spending $400 million for new surveillance technologies, 60 Chula Vista residents gathered at the city’s main library for a lecture from border expert Caesar Sereseres on how the narco wars are affecting Chula Vista.
The event, sponsored by local political activist groups Communities Taking Action and We Are Revolutionaries, included a 20-minute introduction to the narco-drug wars, followed by a 40-minute Q&A session.
“You just can’t step back and expect the federal government to provide all of the answers,” said Sereseres during the presentation. “So, in a sense, Chula Vista and many of the border cities in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas have some responsibility to become part of the dialogue.”
According to Sereseres, a political science professor from U.C. Irvine, border cities need to organize, come up with ideas, and express those ideas to the federal government in order for any progress to be made.
Sereseres offered some criticism: “Chula Vista has to have a dialogue about its relationship with the border. I read a 30-page city report about economic growth, about home prices, sales tax, and everything else. In those 25 to 30 pages, I didn’t see one line, not one paragraph, that says this is how we factor in our proximity to Mexico.”
Most of the brief presentation dealt with the ability of the narcos to adapt and deal with new enforcement strategies employed by the U.S. and Mexican governments. Also addressed was the U.S.’s culpability in supplying guns, money, and precursor medications for the production of methamphetamine.
Despite any strategy, said Sereseres, as long as there’s demand and money in the U.S., the border cities will remain hotbeds of drug violence. “In order to stop the violence, you need to decrease the profits.”
City councilmembers Rudy Ramirez and Pamela Bensoussan were in attendance. Bensoussan asked Sereseres what role local government should take.
“Collect the five or six local cities closest to the border, have a two-day meeting, talk about what the border means to you -- both positive and negative -- and come up with your own six-, seven-page report,” answered Sereseres.
Some other questions from audience members dealt with decriminalization, improved border technology, and the notion of diverting money used to fight the narcos toward infrastructure and schools.
“People think we can put fences up,” said Sereseres, “that will only last so long. There’s corruption on both sides of the border. We’re not clean.”
For more on ways Chula Vista should address the drug wars, go to communitiestakingaction.com.