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Mexican business leaders demand gov't do more to curb drug violence

About 10,000 businesses in Juarez, Mexico closed in the last year and a half due to the recession and escalating drug violence.

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: The Mexican government said yesterday more than 30,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence in that country in the past four years. Last night, a mother protesting her daughter's murder became the latest statistic, after she herself was shot and killed.

We've told you about Mexican businesses relocating north of the border, trying to start over. Now, Mexican business leaders who're staying have taken out full-page newspaper ads demanding the government do more to stop the violence.

Marketplace's Jeff Tyler reports.


Jeff Tyler: The newspaper ad urged all levels of government to follow through on pledges to reform the justice system. This public stand is new for business leaders. In the past, they've tended to deal with the violence by hiring their own private security.

Shannon O'Neil, with the Council on Foreign Relations, says executives have become more vocal after recent attacks in Monterrey, the country's the business capital.

Shannon O'Neil: What they're finding with the escalation of violence is that they no longer -- even big businesses -- can no longer do this on their own. This has to be public security provided by the government.

The government has lots of room for improvement. O'Neil says, if someone commits a crime in Mexico, that person has only a 2 percent chance of being caught, tried and convicted. But she says the country's elite also need to take more responsibility.

O'Neil: Throughout Latin America, they are second only to Guatemala in terms of the low tax rate that they pay. And so, it's great to demand this of your government, but your government needs the capacity to ensure security, and that in the end costs money.

The lack of security has cost Mexico money. Andres Ochoa-Bunsow sits on the board of the American Chamber of Commerce in Monterrey.

Ochoa-Bunsow: The biggest impact has been on the deterioration on the Mexico brand, in general.

Yesterday, the Swedish appliance maker Electrolux became the latest to re-think investing in the country. Instead of building its new $190 million factory in Mexico, the manufacturer settled on Memphis, Tenn.

I'm Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeff Tyler is a reporter for Marketplace’s Los Angeles bureau, where he reports on issues related to immigration and Latin America.
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It is a strange state of affairs that violence in Mexico seems to be benefiting workers in the United States.

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