Photo caption: McGlynn enters auditorium at Chamber of Commerce gathering in downtown El Paso, TX Monday. El Paso Times photo.
When a U.S. State Department official accepted U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas) invitation to El Paso, we locals hoped for insight. Could Mexico collapse, as a recent U.S. Joint Forces Command report suggests? Will the U.S. $1.4 Billion Merida Initiative package effectively help Mexico quell the drug cartel war? When will the horrifying violence that plagues Mexico, and especially Ciudad Juarez, end?
William L McGlynn, the State Department official, was touted by Reyes as "pre-eminently qualified to share insights about what is really going on in Mexico, and between the governments of Mexico and the United States." However, the presentation was less than enlightening, according to the El Paso Times report on the Chamber of Commerce gathering of 100 civic and business leaders on Monday.
McGlynn, after arriving an hour late, could neither predict a cessation to the violence nor disclose what portion of the Merida Initiative aid package would be earmarked for U.S. border security. The audience expressed concerned about the negative business image of the border. Nearly 1700 murders in Juarez since January 2008 make it one of the world's most violent cities. They heard little to assuage their concerns.
City Representative Beto O'Rourke, who attracted national attention last month by suggesting the U.S. discuss drug legalization as a way to diminish the cartel's reign of terror, was "disappointed." When Reyes' twice compared the situation to the movie Last Man Standing, O'Rourke felt he implied we should stand back and watch to see who wins. He commented that simply to "let people duke it out is not showing leadership."
Reyes disallowed a local radio station president, who inquired about drug-related kidnappings in El Paso, from asking a second question after she refuted his contention that the kidnapping reports were "urban legends."
McGlynn is the principal deputy assistant secretary of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs at the State Department. He intended to also visit Mexico later in the day, but I don't have any information to share about that part of his itinerary.