“The hub for producing cocaine for the U.S. is no longer Mexico,” Reyes Ferriz said “It has moved to the Caribbean. Those countries don't have the economy like Mexico to beat the gangs, and the gangs could take over those small countries. The U.S. should place its attention on those smaller countries,” he said.
But he praised the U.S. legal system for its efficiency in prosecution, and added the Mexican legal system could learn from it.
When Mexicans felt their government had failed them, they would turn to La Familia cartel for justice instead of the government, he said.
Reyes Ferriz said another mistake the Mexican government made was in legally preventing the Mexican Army and police from purchasing assault weapons while the drug cartels had full access to them.
He said Juarez was the first city to allow authorities to have assault weapons.
Reyes Ferriz said in order to win the war on drugs and take back the country, the root causes need to be addressed: the lack of education and lack of jobs.
Mexico needs to create jobs, fix its legal system, educate its leaders and young people, and further cooperate with the United States, Reyes Ferriz said.
Ann Marie Woltman, of Sheffield Lake, a licensed social worker and audience member, said she visited Juarez, Mexico over 40 years ago and felt safe there. But even though she would love to revisit Mexico, she is hesitant to return to a country that now has great drug-related violence among cartels with some of that violence even directed toward women, she said.
“The thing that surprised me was when (Reyes Ferriz) said that the trafficking of women (by cartels) was under control; that's not what the media are saying in the United States,” Woltman said.
Award winning filmmaker presents movie on undocumented immigration
The movie “No Turning Back” by award winning director and independent filmmaker Jesus Nebot was presented Friday evening.
“No Turning Back” is based on a true story of a man, who after losing his wife and home to Hurricane Mitch in Honduras in 1999, migrates without documentation to the U.S. with his 3 year-old daughter. But while borrowing his employer's truck for a trip to the movies with his daughter, the man accidentally runs over and kills a young girl. The man is torn between doing what is right with the law and doing what is right for his family, Nebot said.
“I didn't want to make a film about an illegal immigrant that is a good person by traditional standards. I wanted to really push some buttons,” Nebot said of his film.
Nebot himself at one point was an undocumented immigrant in the United States so the topic is very personal for him.
Nebot was born in Spain and after living in Venezuela for some time, decided to migrate to the U.S. in hopes of landing an acting career. He reached that goal but his other great passion was to make films about real issues. In the process of financing his own movie, he ran into debt and became homeless.
But Nebot went from homeless to financially stable in just 5 years after starting his real estate business.
Today he is also a lecturer, inspirational speaker, and social entrepreneur.
“When I push the buttons ultimately what I want to do as a filmmaker is to show how important it is for all of us to let go of our judgments that we have of one another, and regardless of the circumstances to live peacefully in a society as diverse as ours,” Jesus Nebot said.
Nebot continued “I'm not condoning in any way, shape or form people crossing the border or doing anything illegal for that matter. I'm saying we need to look at it from a place of compassion,” Nebot said.
Melissa “Cha-Cha” Figueroa performed the U.S. National Anthem on Saturday morning and performed her own single “Puerto Rico en Mi,” at the Saturday night gala. As an LCCC student majoring in licensed social work, she said getting an education was always something important to her in addition to pursuing her singing career.
As a Latina proud of her Puerto Rican heritage, she said it feels “monumental” to have performed at this year's Hispanic Leadership Conference. She added she loved the conference and learned so much. “The new education every year. They come up with new information that needs to be told of Hispanics around the world,” she said.