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Larry Live from the Mexican Border

Aired April 16, 2009 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, President Obama takes a stand on destroying Mexican drug kingpins.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will not pretend that this is Mexico's responsibility alone.


KING: The United States and Mexico join forces as never before to end the murder and mayhem that threatens both countries.


OBAMA: And I am committed to fixing our broken immigration system in a way that upholds our traditions.


KING: Can two governments crush the cartels -- blamed for more than 6,000 deaths last year?

Plus, pirates hijacked his ship and could have killed his captain, but he lived to tell and he's here to tell us what really went down the day armed bandits tried to commandeer his cargo vessel.

Coming next live from the border on LARRY KING LIVE.

It's a windy late afternoon in Southern California. We're south of San Diego, a little north of Tijuana. In fact, Tijuana, Mexico is right behind us.

An historic visit by President Obama to Mexico City today.

We have a great group of guests. We'll meet the first two in just a moment.

Here's a little bit of what the president had to say earlier today.



OBAMA: At a time when the Mexican government has so courageously taken on the drug cartels that have plagued both sides of the borders, it is absolutely critical that the United States joins as a full partner in dealing with this issue, both through initiatives like the Merida Initiative, but also on our side of the border in dealing with the flow of guns and cash south.


KING: We welcome here to the United States Mexican border Duncan Hunter, former member of the United States House of Representatives, a Republican of California -- a candidate, by the way, for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008, a long time activist, especially on issues of immigration and border security.

And the mayor of Tijuana, Mexico, Mayor Jorge Ramos, who's come across the border himself to join us.

What's the importance, Duncan, of this visit by Obama?

DUNCAN HUNTER, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, ACTIVIST, IMMIGRATION & BORDER ISSUES: Well, I think this is a critical time because there is definitely a war -- a drug war taking place in Mexico. And, of course, this is a military force. These -- these cartels have lots of sophisticated weapons, communications gear. And that means that the government of Mexico needs American help in -- in stemming this violence and trying to break down these cartels and the increasing control that they hold over the border regions.

KING: Mayor, would you echo that?

MAYOR JORGE RAMOS, TIJUANA, MEXICO: Yes. I think that we're making a lot of progress here in Tijuana. We had a very bad year just in 2008. But we have this trimester with very good progress because we dropped down criminal activity 79 percent in this past three months. We're having a lot of support from President Calderon and the state governors.

So our situation is, I would say it's calmed down.

KING: What was the key to accomplishing that?

RAMOS: Well, I think that the key is the way that we deal with this problem. The president of Mexico, the state governor and myself here in the city, we work as one team. And we're dealing to clean our corporation -- our police corporation.

I just fired 382 police officers that were involved in criminal activity in only 14 months.


RAMOS: So we're making a lot of progress. I think that our president, Calderon, is a very courageous man. He is very committed to fix these kind of problems and we're making a lot of difference now on the border.

KING: Duncan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says a big part of the problem is the customer of the drugs. And that customer is in the United States.

HUNTER: Well, that's -- that's the case, Larry. It's supply and demand and you've got to -- you have to hammer both -- both sides of the drug problem.

But one thing that we did here -- and so we've got a -- this is a war that will never be totally won, but one thing we did here, right where we sit, in the old days, you had what they called -- what the Border Patrol called the bonsai rings, where just down this valley, you would have a thousand smugglers come across at one time, many of them carrying backpacks of cocaine, racing for places where they'd be picked up by vans. You had over 300 drug trucks a month roaring across this border right here.

When we built the double fence here in the 1990s and we put up that steel fence and then the secondary fence, we stopped all the drug drive-throughs and we cut the crime rate in the County of San Diego by more than 50 percent.

So you've got to -- you've got to work both angles. We have to work the supply side and the demand side. The demand, of course, up here. But we have to have an enforceable border. The border fence is key to that, Larry. And, you know, Joseph Wambaugh wrote that great book -- I'm going to give it to you for the ride home -- about, called "Lines and Shadows" about the robberies, the rapes and the murders that took place on this border before we built the fence.

So I hope this administration doesn't slow down or stop the border fence construction, because that's just as important as work in the demand side.

KING: What do you want, Mayor, the United States to do?

RAMOS: I think that you've really got a good point when you said that we have to do -- it's our responsibility. We have to do a lot of things together in cooperation. And I -- I agree that -- there's thousands of people that are trying to get across with those kind of drugs in the bag. But there's also true that 45 million border crossings of good people -- people that are making economic developments on both sides of the border. $5 billion -- that's the economy that we make in the San Diego and Tijuana region.

We are suffering three hours to get across and go for our schools, to share -- decent and legal jobs.

So I think we have to agree in a -- in a way that doesn't hurt the economic development of the good people on both sides of the border.

KING: You're not against the welcoming of the good Mexican into the United States?

HUNTER: No, Larry. In fact, a few miles from here, we have -- as we talk here, we have the border crossings where two major freeways go into Mexico. And we've had -- as we sat here talking, we've probably had 5,000 people go back and forth, coming from the north, coming from the south. They're coming through the front door.

But the point is if that if you've got a big front door, which America has, we should make sure when people come to this country, they come through the front door and knock on the front door. Because if you check with the Border Patrol today, a great many of the people that are coming across at night, especially those with backpacks with cocaine, have heavy criminal records. If they could get through legally, they would be coming through that front door that's open just a few miles from us right now.

KING: You're seeing, by the way, live pictures now of a dinner being held right now at the special conference at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. The two leaders of the countries, the United States and Mexico, Felipe Calderon and Barack Obama, are co- hosting this dinner.

No speeches will be made, we understand. There will be some toasts. And we'll go to the toasts as soon as they're about to take place.

Mayor Ramos, why so much killing?

What's the point of that?

RAMOS: I think that we started that war. I mean President Calderon started that war against the drug lords and all around the country. And here in Mexico, we fight -- we fight them so bad that they get weak. And there's groups from other sides or other parts of the -- of the country. They're trying to -- they fight to get the city for one of each parts.

And that's why I think there -- there was a lot of killing last year. But I'm telling you, for the cleaning that we make in our police corporation and all those arrests that the federal government has just made on those drug lords -- they've just drug down 79 percent of...

KING: I know.

RAMOS: ...of the criminal activity.

KING: Duncan, 6,000 killings since this war began.

HUNTER: Well, Larry, what you're talking about is drug cartels that are fighting for one thing. They're fighting over the American market. They're fighting over whose going to have control of the pipelines that -- that come across this border, Arizona's border, New Mexico's border and Texas -- the Texas border.

What we need to do on this side -- now, we're helping as much as we can. We're going to help with communications gear and with intelligence, with -- with some sophisticated systems of helping the -- the federal government in Mexico to fight the drug lords.

But the other thing we have to do is make sure it doesn't spill over on this side. And if these people with massive criminal records, who do rob and rape and murder -- and, you know, about 25 percent of all the people in federal prison today in this country are criminal aliens, many of them associated with drug activities.

We've got to make sure that that violence doesn't spill over into this country and that drug lords who are on the run from other drug lords in Mexico don't seek refuge in the United States.

KING: Mr. Mayor, are you optimistic that the United States will continue the crackdown?

RAMOS: Yes, I'm optimistic. I've been hearing the speeches of President Obama and President Calderon. And I'm very glad to hear about that joining of the vision that we have to work this together. There's been a lot of debate in the past at what -- what our differences are. And now we have to think of what we can do and what's common to us.

KING: I'm going to interrupt you a second, Mayor.

Let's go to that dinner being held now in Mexico City and let's listen in.


FELIPE CALDERON, PRESIDENT OF MEXICO (through translator): And two nations united by their hopes and values. The world has seen all paradise fall, the false belief that we could abuse nature without worrying about the consequences, the wrong notion that consumption without limits or unbridled finances could generate prosperity automatically.

Humanity has committed many of what Mahatma Ghandi referred to as the venal sins -- to have wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, science without humanity, knowledge without character, trade without morality, prayer without sacrifice and politics without principles.

This civilization, our civilization, as we can see in this museum, has had the privilege of unearthing many ancient civilizations. Nevertheless, it has not yet realized the risk of its own morality.

I know, Mr. President, the great responsibility that weights upon your shoulders. You are the president of the United States of America. But at the same time, you represent, as in very few occasions, the hopes of millions and millions of men and women not only in the United States of America, but all over the world -- the hope that we will have better ways for a human race that is suffering the effects of its own mistakes. A human race wounded by war and violence, organized crime and terrorism. A human race that's scarred still by the misery of billions in the sudden and prolonged deterioration in the standard of living of many others as the result of the deepest economic crisis that the current generations have ever witnessed.

I am among those who believe that the responsibility that each human being achieves on Earth goes hand in hand with the talents that he has received. I know that you, Mr. President, have been given intelligence, humility and charisma to provide the leadership required to face and solve the problems of our age.

You need to know that in Mexico, you can count with friends, partners, neighbors and allies willing to face together this task.

We both belong to the generation of change -- the generation that has before it the historic opportunity to transform our reality. As you said in Berlin, we must live our imprint in the world.

This will require a great effort, but I am sure that we can do it. This is one of the few moments in history, that has been so complex amongst our people, where both presidents can shake hands and speak the truth to each other.

Now, it is the time to act as presidents to bring their peoples to get closer together and to overcome our challenges together. Mexico and the United States want their citizens to live in peace and tranquility. They want their children and young people to live free from the violence caused by...

KING: That's President Calderon speaking out in Mexico City at the dinner tonight honoring the visiting president of the United States.

As soon as Barack Obama steps up to speak, we'll join him.

Do you have confidence, Duncan, as a Republican, in Obama in all of this Mexican dealings?

HUNTER: Well, I -- I think we have to see what he does with a couple of things. One, the border fence -- let's continue to build, because it has had an outstanding effect...

KING: Well, he hasn't said he isn't (INAUDIBLE).

HUNTER: He hasn't said he's not going to do it.

The other thing is, Larry, we've got a large firearms traffic going back and forth and feeding the drug wars in Mexico -- lots of firearms coming in from the U.S. One thing that another Hunter, you know, a good old Marine, Duncan Hunter, who succeeded me in Congress. I've got to put a plug in for my son. He came back from Iraq and Afghanistan. He's a great bill in that gives mandatory 15 year sentences to people that traffic guns across the border. And keeping those guns from going across the border in either direction...

KING: All right...

HUNTER: a very key part of winning this war.

KING: What about the possible -- or people have talked about, Mayor, militarization of the border?

RAMOS: Well, on the Mexican side, in Tijuana, I think that the civil authorities, we can deal with the problem.

KING: You don't need the military?

RAMOS: We're having backup support from the military if it's necessary.

But I want to get to -- to this point. I agree with the Congressman in this issue about the guns and weapons that are getting across the border to our cities. I think that kind of -- that kind of situation is hurting our people and our families. And it's hurting the people from San Diego and Los Angeles who live this side of California.

I think we ought to do something about it, because 90 percent of the guns and weapons that we capture when we capture these drug lords are -- were buyed on this side of the border. And I think we've got to do really do got to think -- do something about it for the well- being of both sides (INAUDIBLE).

KING: Are you optimistic?

HUNTER: I think, Mayor, you've got to ask President Obama to support Congressman Duncan Hunter's bill for mandatory 15-year sentences for people moving drugs or moving guns across the border. We need your help on that one.

RAMOS: Yes, I respect that.

KING: Are you...

RAMOS: (INAUDIBLE) at this side of the border. (INAUDIBLE).

KING: Are you optimistic, Mr. Mayor, that things are going to get better?

RAMOS: Absolutely. Absolutely...

KING: Not just Tijuana, but everywhere.

RAMOS: Everywhere. I am -- I'm very optimistic, because we, Larry, have a very brave president. President Calderon is really committed to fight -- to win this fight. And we are having now results that are telling us that we're making a lot of progress on this. And I've been hearing the speeches of the president of the United States. And I'm very hopeful that we're going to build a lot of things that makes our country safer for our families and a safer future for -- for both.

KING: Duncan, would you deploy the U.S. military at the border?

HUNTER: I think you need more Border Patrolmen -- maybe another 10,000 Border Patrolmen. It's an ineffective use of the military, but you -- you have to deploy if you -- if you had an emergency...

KING: Let me hold you right there, Duncan.

HUNTER: You'd have to...

KING: President Obama about to speak now at this dinner tonight -- the reception at Mexico's National Museum of Anthropology.

Here's the president of the United States.


KING: You didn't tell me that.

Apparently, the toast will take place now and -- at this dinner. And then we expect the president of the United States to have some remarks. This, of course, is traditional when a head of state visits another state, that the welcoming president makes an address and then the toast is made.

Let's listen.

OBAMA: Let me begin by expressing my deepest thanks to President Calderon and Mrs. Zavala (ph) for their gracious welcome. And thank you for the spectacular setting. I can't imagine a more magnificent evening.

This is my first trip as president to Mexico. And it's one that I will always remember fondly for the hospitality and the warmth that has been provided to me during my brief visit.

Now, earlier today, we conducted a series of productive meetings on a whole host of challenges and opportunities that we face jointly. We spoke about our deep economic ties, reflecting the $1 billion of trade that crosses our borders every day. We discussed steps we can take together -- both bilaterally and in a global setting -- to advance opportunity and prosperity in our two countries and across the Americas.

We spoke about the deep ties between our peoples and what steps can be made to meet our immigration challenge. And that involves passing comprehensive immigration reform in the United States, which I'm committed to doing, and it involves making certain that we're promoting increased opportunity here in Mexico.

We spoke about our obligation to take steps to build clean energy together that can power our economies and beat back climate change in future centuries.

And, of course, we spoke about the great dangers that the drug cartels are presenting to both our nations, that are threatening innocent men and women and children on both sides of our borders and our shared determination to put an end to these drug wars.

These are some of the critical challenges that we face as a result of the border we share. But what makes us good neighbors is not that our interests are always aligned, that we will agree on everything. In our long and interwoven history, we haven't always been on the same side of every issue. And there's no doubt that in the future there will be differences once again. What makes us good neighbors is the simple truth -- that our people share so much more than common challenges and common interests. We also share values and ideals. We are both a people who know the meaning of hard work, a people know -- who know what it means to struggle and to sacrifice on behalf of our children and our grandchildren, people who know that strength comes from faith and from family, people who've known hardship and trial and persevered in the face of great odds.

That's the story of the separate struggles for independence that have made our nations who we are -- struggles that are forged on this continent -- two adjoining nations found on a set of shared values.

But our democracy is not simply a gift from a previous generation, but a responsibility for each generation to protect and to pass on to the next. We both understand that no one, whether it's through influence of politics, the power of money or the fear of force, is above the law and that we are, every one of us, equal, endowed with the basic human rights that spring not from our laws, but from our maker.

Each of our nations was formed out of the sense that a state has no greater responsibility than to uphold the essential dignity of its citizens. That was the promise of my country's struggle for independence. That was the promise of Mexico's struggle for independence. That was the promise of American independence. It's a promise advanced by Hidalgo as well as Washington; by Lincoln, but also by Juarez; and a promise that now falls on all of us to advance in our own time.

And more than 60 years ago, at a moment when our world was consumed with war, one of my predecessors came here to Mexico to reaffirm the relationship between our two nations. In a speech to the people of Mexico, Franklin Delano Roosevelt: "Our peoples are finding that they have common aspirations. They can work together for a common objective. Let us never lose hold of that truth."

That was President Roosevelt's message then. That is my message now. And I'm confident that if we continue to draw strength from our common aspirations and purpose, from our common objectives, if we continue to act, as we have during this visit, in the spirit of mutual responsibility, mutual respect and mutual interest, then that is a truth that we will uphold together in the months and years to come.

And I am so pleased that I have such an outstanding partner as President Calderon -- somebody who has shown his courage and his bravery and somebody who has shown that he combines a sense of principle with a sense of practicality; somebody I know wants to be a partner with me, as we strengthen our partnership and we make certain that the children of Mexico and the children of the United States are both seeing a future that's more prosperous and more hopeful than -- than ones that have come before.

So, thank you very much, everybody.

And let me please make a toast to my host. (APPLAUSE)

KING: The traditional toast, president to president -- apparently, two toasts tonight, one before the Obama remarks and one after.

The crowd applauds.

And we'll be right back with more from the border.

Don't go away.


KING: Joining us on the phone from Phoenix, Arizona is Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. He's called America's toughest sheriff by some of his hard-line enforcement of immigration laws.

What do you think of the president's trip to Mexico, Sheriff?

SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO, SHERIFF, MARICOPA COUNTY, ARIZONA: Well, it's good that he visited Mexico. It shows you the interest that he has -- and the U.S. government -- to cooperate with the Mexican president and the country of Mexico.

KING: You're famous -- or some say notorious -- for your hard- line tactics in trying to enforce immigration laws.


KING: What efforts are you making to try to stem the flow of guns into -- into your neck of the woods?

ARPAIO: Well, you know, we do work on every investigation. But let me just say this, Larry. I'm a little concerned that we do have a drug problem. We have illegal immigration problems. They're fighting each other in Mexico and the United States. We have many executions here, kidnappings, hostage taking because of illegal immigration, which no one seems to be focusing on. It's always the drugs.

Is that a political reason, to minimize the problem that we have with illegal immigration?

KING: You're saying that politics are trying to minimize -- minimize immigration in order to focus on drug cartels?

ARPAIO: Well, why aren't we talking more about illegal immigration -- the violence because of that problem in Mexico and in the United States of America, where all these executions are taking place -- and kidnappings -- because of the illegal immigration problem?

KING: What about those who say -- your critics say your tactics of to make the Latino community -- have made the Latino community stop trusting the police? ARPAIO: Well, that's garbage. By the way, when you cross the border, Larry, you have violated the law. You can have all the fences you want. I don't hear anyone saying once you come here illegally, what will happen to you.

Why don't we say zero tolerance, you put them in jail if they cross the border and violate the law?

No one talks about that, either.

KING: All right. Your state's governor and both of your senators, they want U.S. military deployed at the border.

Do you?

ARPAIO: I have a problem with that. I was a regional director in Mexico City and Latin America. I saw military focused -- acting as law enforcement. I have a problem with it.

If you want tanks at the border, put more Border Patrolmen there, arm them, give them the machine guns. But we don't need the military acting as law enforcement.

KING: I always love talking to you.

We'll call on you again.

ARPAIO: Thank you.

KING: Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona.

He is not a laid back guy.

We'll be back with more from the border on this special edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

Don't go away.


KING: The sheriff mentioned immigration. We'll have a major debate on immigration coming up in a few moments. Two outstanding gentlemen will go at it.

Now let's go to Laredo, Texas. Joining us is Alan Bersin, President Obama's newly appointed border czar. His official title, Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for International Affairs and Special Representative for Border Affairs. You had a similar job with the Clinton administration. You have said these two situations are completely different. Will you please explain why?

ALAN BERSIN, "BORDER CZAR": Well, the roles are different because the border's different. Ten years ago, Larry, this border was under-resourced, under-policed and just pulling itself together. I come back to the border ten years later, and I find that the resources that have been provided to Customs and Border Patrol, that's the Border Patrol and the field offices that man the ports of entry, and to the other agencies are actually quite substantial. Eleven billion dollars for Homeland Security.

I also find that the problems are significant, but they are now confronted or accompanied by a willingness to work with Mexico. For the first time in the history of this border, and I believe in the history between the two countries, we have, as demonstrated by President Obama's presence tonight with President Calderon in Mexico City, an understanding that this is a mutual problem that requires that we find the common ground for cooperation.

That's never happened before. I can tell you that the law enforcement people and the people who live on the border here are excited by the prospect. We've got to capitalize on it. It presents the opportunity of a history.

KING: Alan, are you more confident now than then?

BERSIN: I am more confident that this border can be managed successfully with the cooperation of Mexico and the United States. That's not to underestimate the difficulties. We've got to insist on stopping guns going south and cash going south for narcotics transactions. We've got to work to build up the capacity of the Mexican police. But never before has someone as heroic, courageous and brave as Felipe Calderon ever been in the presidency to declare war on drug trafficking organizations, and to find a partner in the United States willing to cooperate. It's a very special time.

KING: Do you favor the possible use of military force at the border?

BERSIN: I believe that if the threat arose, that President Obama and Secretary Napolitano would look at the doctrine of posse comitatus, and see whether or not it applied. I believe they are actually reviewing that in the context of requests from several governors.

That would require a threat of the kind that doesn't presently exist. And I believe that providing more law enforcement resources of the kind that have been provided to the border in the last few years and have been recently dramatically increased by Secretary Napolitano's actions, is the preferred route to go right now.

KING: I hope in the near future we can sit down together and spend more time on this. I would love having more to talk to you about. Thanks so much for joining us.

BERSIN: Likewise. Thank you, Larry.

KING: Alan Bersin, President Obama's newly appointed border czar. We are at the border between San Diego -- south of San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico. We'll debate this question of immigration next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Now let's look the at the immigration question here at the United States-Mexico border. Enrique Morones is the founder and president of Border Angels and Jim Gilchrist is founder of the Minutemen Project. First, are you encouraged by President Obama's visit today?

ENRIQUE MORONES, FOUNDER, BORDER ANGELS: Larry, I am very encouraged by the president's visit to Mexico. I'm very encouraged by what President Obama is doing and what President Calderon is doing. It is wonderful.

KING: Jim, are you encouraged by it?

JIM GILCRHIST, FOUNDER, MINUTEMEN PROJECT: Certainly more encouraged by the president of Mexico, Felipe Calderon. He's the first president that I can recall who has literally taken this criminal cartel beast by the horn and wrestled it to the ground. He deserves a medal.

But it doesn't stop there. Mayor of Tijuana firing 382 dirty cops. Great job. It also includes U.S. political participation. As long as we have a U.S. Senate, and a majority of the U.S. House of Representatives who do not want our borders enforced, and keep depriving our border patrol of a doubling of their budget and the Bureau Immigration and Customs Enforcement of a tripling of their budget, we are going to continue to have this problem.

KING: Enrique, what is wrong with the United States enforcing immigration laws, and not letting in people not entitled to come in?

MORONES: Absolutely nothing. But it has to be done in a humane manner. The United States is a great country. It's a country mostly made up of immigrants. Today, we see a situation in which this wall behind us has led to the death of more than 10,000 people. It's been a failure. People are continuing to come because they are coming for economic reasons. That's what makes this a great country, its diversity.

Let's have intelligent borders. Let's work on building bridges of communications and not these triple fences of separation. That's why I'm encouraged by the presidents getting together, having qualified people on the border, like the Border Patrol. That is very, very important. Working in the spirit of when a friend is in trouble, you don't build a wall, you reach out and extend a hand of friendship. That's why we need the humane immigration reform in this country.

KING: These people are not criminals, are they Jim? They're looking for a better life.

GILCHRIST: Not all of them, no. But more than 10,000 US residents have been murdered at the hands of illegal aliens. One of them is Deputy David March, Los Angeles Sheriffs Department, executed by illegal alien drug dealer who had been deported twice, imprisoned three times.

KING: That is the exception though, isn't it. GILCHRIST: Certainly, it's the exception. But when you have five million illegal aliens per year entering the United States and not leaving, they are not all here to engage in legal economic activity. Some of them are here to engage in criminal activity. Mexico is the global hub for all the drugs coming into North America and parts of Europe. With that comes a lot of bloodshed.

KING: George Bush tried to moderate it somewhat. He was defeated in the Senate. Obama might try the same. Do you expect a change in policy?

MORONES: Absolutely. The majority of the country, 67 percent according to Gallup Poll, want humane and comprehensive immigration reform. It's very sad to see that these migrants who are coming here do not have a Statue of Liberty. There is no legal way for poor people to come into this country. They are poor for many reasons.

We have to stop blaming each other. We have to start working together and saying, how can we work together in both countries?

KING: What do you want, Enrique? You don't want illegals to come in, but you want people, honest, good day-working people to come in. What's the middle?

MORONES: The overwhelming majority of the people coming here are not committing crimes.

KING: So what do you want done?

MORONES: We want a humane way people can enter the country and comprehensive -- a pathway to legalization for the 12 million undocumented people that are here today.

KING: What is wrong with that, Jim?

MORONES: There is no line for them.

GILCHRIST: What's wrong is that we are setting a precedent.

KING: What is wrong with that?

GILCHRIST: The rule of law is meaningless. It applies only to the foolish, the stupid and gullible, who will obey the rule of law. That is my position. I've held that position. I think my adversary next to me is a passionate man. I think he should take that passion to Mexico and encourage Mexico to take its government back, take it from the criminal cartels, from the corrupt political bureaucrats.

KING: He is not in favor of criminal cartels.

GILCHRIST: Take it from them. I think instead of targeting the United States as some kind of Satanic criminal on the immigration issue, he should take his passion to Mexico, where it belongs, and encourage his people to create the Mexican dream there that we have here, called the American dream. MORONES: This is a great country. I'm proud to have been born in the United States. To see all the diversity, I take that as happening in this country as a wonderful situation. Let's continue to make this a great country. Ghandi was quoted by President Calderone, "let's be the change that we want to see in the world." We've got stop the drugs.

KING: We'll do a lot more on this. I hope to have both of you back.

MORONES: Absolutely.

KING: This is a problem that deserves attention. We'll be right back.


KING: Felix Batista, an American security consultant, former US Army officer, was abducted outside a restaurant in Salteo (ph), Mexico on December 10th. With us in New York is Lourdes Batista, the wife of Felix, and Jackie Batista, his sister. It's been more than four months. Have you heard anything?

LOURDES BATISTA, WIFE OF KIDNAP VICTIM FELIX BATISTA: Not at all. Today is day 128, and we have still to hear some news.

KING: Jackie, why do you think he was taken?

JACKIE BATISTA, SISTER OF KIDNAP VICTIM FELIX BATISTA: Well, I believe that there is speculation as to why he was taken. Felix is an anti-kidnapping expert who specializes in training and helping people in high-profile families on how to protect themselves. He had started a series of seminars to help these companies and enterprises for people to really help themselves in the event they saw themselves in a situation such as kidnapping, which is very much growing in the country of Mexico, as you very well know, based on this show today.

KING: Lourdes, is the United States government doing enough, do you think?

L. BATISTA: Well, I'm a bit disappointed. I know it's an ongoing investigation and the State Department and Mexican authorities are working on this. But still, to this day, I have no answer. I don't know the whereabouts of my husband. I think he deserves more than that.

KING: What about the Mexican government, Jackie?

J. BATISTA: Getting back to the government of the United States, there have been some developments since we last were here with you, Larry. That is Congresswoman Ileana Ros Lehtinen from Florida has reached out to the family. We've met personally. She has aggressively contacted her political colleagues, including Secretary Clinton and President Obama, to include the case of Felix Batista in the actual meetings today with Felipe Calderon. KING: We are not going to let up. Sorry we have such limited time. Things took place that we didn't expect. We will do a lot more with you. We want to remind you, this family has a website. You can help and get more information. Just go to FelixBatista, one word, We'll be right back.



KING: Our CNN hero has accomplished two goals. She's quite a lady, feeding people and saving the rain forest. Erika Vohman says it all starts, by the way, with the Maya Nuts. Watch.


ERIKA VOHMAN, THE EQUILIBRIUM FUND: Well, the Maya Nut is a native rain forest tree in Central America. And it used to provide the staple food for the ancient Mayan civilizations and other pre- Colombian cultures there who lived as hunter and gatherers.

KING: How do you now use it?

VOHMAN: We work with women and we teach them how to cook with it. And so they start to use it to feed their families and get more interested in conserving it, thereby conserving rain forests. And their families are healthier. They're making money. And the rain forest is being protected.

KING: What is the Equilibrium Fund?

VOHMAN: Our mission is to find balance between people, food and forests, because in a lot of cases, people are cutting down rain forests to produce food. And so by rescuing this lost traditional knowledge about the Maya Nut, people are able to produce food from forests.

KING: We think you're a genuine hero, a heroine. However you term it, you're that.

VOHMAN: Thank you. So are you. You're my hero.

KING: Thank you. I'd like to try a Maya Nut. Send me some.


KING: Erika Vohman, quite a lady. When we come back, we'll meet a returning member from the crew of the ship that got hit by the pirates. Quite a celebration next.


KING: They're back. Joining us in New York, John Cronan, who was the engineer on the Maersk Alabama and his fiancee, Heather Giardinelli. He was one of the 19 members of the crew of the Maersk, back in the United States after a dramatic high-seas piracy drama off the coast. Did you expect this, knowing about what was going on and those -- off Somalia? Did you say to yourself ever, we might get hit here?

JOHN CRONAN, MAERSK ALABAMA CREW MEMBER: Well, to tell you the truth, I just had that typical feeling that it won't happen to me. I guess that's what we failed. Everybody likes to think that, it just won't happen to me. Always somebody else.

KING: Yes. Heather, were you very worried?

HEATHER GIARDINELLI, FIANCEE, JOHN CRONAN: Oh, yes. yes. I wasn't as confident as John that it wasn't going to happen to him.

KING: Tell us -- John, describe for us what happened.

CRONAN: Oh, well, I thought it was just going to be another day at sea. The weather was beautiful. We couldn't ask for better conditions. However, while we all rudely awakened by the ship's alarm. And an announcement on the PA system that this is not a drill. And we all promptly took decisive action to maintain and control the ship.

We didn't have to retake the ship, because we never surrendered the ship. I want to compliment my shipmates on their professionalism and courage and bravery. We all acted together. We maintained our discipline, and we stuck together through the whole show. I couldn't ask for a better crew to be with.

KING: Did you fear for your captain?


KING: Did you fear for your captain, John?

CRONAN: Yes, I did. We all did. Yes, we did. He went above and beyond -- above and beyond the call to ensure our safety. I can't thank that man enough. He is the reason I am here tonight.

KING: Now, were you part of the setup with the exchange with the pirates? What was that like?

CRONAN: Well, we -- my shipmates and I just did what we do. We launch and recover lifeboats. It's our way of life. And that's what we did that night.

KING: I understand you have -- you hid somewhere, is that true?

CRONAN: Yes, sir. Most of us were able to find concealment. We laid low, and we waited. And we -- we let them -- we let them lose whatever they thought they had, you know. We held our ground. We held our ground, and we showed them that we were not giving up. I saw fear in their eyes.

KING: You did.

CRONAN: Yes, sir. KING: Heather, do you want your fiance to continue a life at sea?

GIARDINELLI: John and I have an agreement. He doesn't tell me how to do my job, and I won't tell him how to do his.

KING: What is your job?

GIARDINELLI: I'm a pharmaceutical market researcher.

KING: So you can continue being a pharmaceutical market researcher, and he can continue going to sea?

GIARDINELLI: We're probably going to have some talks about that. But it's not my decision to make. It's what John has -- it's John. John's -- he is a seaman. He is a sailor.

KING: You got that from your father?

CRONAN: Yes, sir, my father went to sea for half a century, starting in the Second World War. The American Merchant Marine is the reason we were able to successfully win the war and every other one. And we are the reason that we can maintain our forces overseas, our brave -- our very brave and courageous service men and women are overseas defending our freedom thanks to the American Merchant Marine. We're professionals, and we're union members, and this is what we do.

KING: And therefore, obvious the way you say that, you will go back to sea again.

CRONAN: Yes, sir. However, the Staten Island Ferry has become more appealing.

KING: That wouldn't be bad. Engineer of the Staten Island Ferry. I'm going to push you for that job. We'll be right back with more of John and Heather right after this.

I'm told there is no break. We go right -- you're telling me we go right through? Oh, OK. There is no break. We go -- you're still with us, John. OK.

By the way, when your captain was taken and you didn't get any news, what kept you going?

CRONAN: The courage that I observed in my shipmates. My love of my family, my home and my country, and my desire to return home safely to those that I love.

KING: We honor you, John, and Heather. Thanks so much for joining us, John Cronan. Tomorrow night, Ashton Kutcher will be here. Hey, that continues. Meanwhile, Anderson Cooper right now.