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U.S. Guns Bring Mexican Casualties

Activists protest in front of the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia. Credit: Caravan4Peace

Activists protest in front of the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia. Credit: Caravan4Peace

WASHINGTON, Sep 12 2012 (IPS) - Mexican activists winding down a month-long U.S. tour warned Tuesday that guns licensed in the United States were playing a massive part in gang- and drug cartel-related violence in Mexico.

Those speaking in Washington on Tuesday were part of a movement of activists and families known as the Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity. The movement was started by Mexican poet Javier Sicilia in 2011 in direct response to the murder of his son, a victim of the drug war being waged both in Mexico and the United States.

According to the organisation, more than 60,000 people have died and at least 20,000 others have “disappeared” since Mexican President Felipe Calderon took office in 2006, bringing with him a newfound militarisation of the struggle against the drug trade. Over the first half of 2012 alone, an estimated 21,500 people were murdered due to drug-related violence.

The Caravan for Peace activists are calling on U.S and Mexican authorities to change these militarised policies and end the drug war. In particular, they are urging the United States to crack down on the trafficking of arms to Mexico, which has played a crucial part in the thousands of murders and disappearances and the ongoing violence that pervades the country.

“There is strong evidence that these weapons are coming from the USA,” Sergio Aguayo, a noted Mexican academic, said Tuesday, speaking of arms in drugs-related violence.

Aguayo has long had a reputation for being both critical of lax U.S gun control and contemptuous of a perceived lack of regard for Mexican lives.

The Mexican drug cartels tend to favour AK-47 and AR-15 assault weapons, the group says, which are easily available at almost all U.S. gun shops near the U.S.-Mexican border.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has confirmed that approximately 70 percent of the guns being used and recovered in the Mexican drug war are of U.S origin.

And while many activists and organisations have repeatedly called on U.S. legislators to enact stricter gun control laws and stem the flow of arms into Mexico, Caravan for Peace’s agenda has always been to urge both the Mexican and U.S governments to find alternatives to the drug war.

Over the course of the past month of touring the United States, the movement has showcased individuals who have lost family members to the drug war. Olga Reyes, for instance, spoke on Tuesday about losing six members of her family to the drug-related violence, noting that she has more than 20 additional members of her family now living in exile for the same reason.

Aguayo is also highly critical of the Mexican government. “Felipe Calderon’s government has not fulfilled its commitment” towards the victims of the drug war, he says. He also warns that, despite the fact that Calderon term in office ended with the July elections, his militarised anti-drugs policies have not been halted.

But Aguayo says that much of the responsibility for the drug violence in Mexico lies with the U.S. government. “Help put out the fire at your neighbour’s house before your house catches fire and ends in ashes,” he said Tuesday, paraphrasing the former U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

For his part, Sicilia, the poet and founder of the Caravan for Peace, is clear about what is really at stake for the movement.

“We have travelled across the United States to raise awareness of the unbearable pain and loss caused by the drug war, and of the enormous shared responsibility for protecting families and communities in both our countries,” he says. “Our purpose is to honour our victims, to make their names and faces visible.”

 
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  • lkeane01

    You state false facts. It not true that 70% of firearms misused by Mexico drug cartels come from the US. Only 12% of the firearms recovered in Mexico come from the US. What the evidence shows is that 70% of the guns recovered AND TRACED by ATF were originally sold at retail in the US after a background check. AND, ATF has acknowledged in court that those firearms were sold on average 15 years before being recovered in Mexico.

  • Jake S.

    “The Mexican drug cartels tend to favour AK-47 and AR-15 assault weapons, the group says, which are easily available at almost all U.S. gun shops near the U.S.-Mexican border.”

    Even if you accept the politicized label of the AR-15 as a [so-called] “assault weapon,” the /actual/ (i.e. military/police) classification of an AK-47 is as an “assault rifle.” It is a select-fire weapon (i.e. includes some mode of ‘automatic’ fire) and, thus, regulated under the National Firearms Act of 1934. The AR-15 is [by definition] a semi-automatic weapon, and is not subject to regulation under the Act.

    I am otherwise supportive of the Caravan For Peace and regret that their tour did not pass through my city (or anywhere within traveling distance), but they apparently know absolutely nothing about firearms and are comparing fully-automatic and select-fire apples with semi-automatic oranges.

    Sure, some cartel members might like the [again, semi-automatic] AR-15 platform, but I’m sure that ANY cartel member would prefer the select-fire M16 rifle (or M4 carbine). You don’t find THOSE in U.S. gun shops… cartel members primarily get those from other countries, or when Mexican military and police walk off the job* and into the employ of the cartels.

    *after receiving specialized training from U.S. military and police units, and select-fire M16-pattern weapons via the DOD’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and State Department’s Direct
    Commercial Sales (DCS) programs, of course
    http://oai.dtic.mil/oai/oai?verb=getRecord&metadataPrefix=html&identifier=ADA355007

    http://www.fas.org/programs/ssp/asmp/factsandfigures/government_data_index.html

    http://justf.org/All_Sales_Program

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=647019398 Kim Alessandro

    I wonder…how many of these guns came from Fast and Furious?

  • disqus_khiD4yhUiu

    Your comments on the orgin of Guns coming from US gun runners is full of many holes and you blame the USA Gun laws on your troubles. It has already been proven, despite your efforts to use the” 70% and 90% Guns come from American Gun dealers”, is false and the truth is around 12% of those Guns come from the USA. The fact is we all know these Guns came from the US Government, via anti-Communist groups Military Units in Mexico and other South American grops that were armed by the US Government and not Americans practicing thier 2nd Amendment rights.
    We did not declare this so-called Drug war on you, our Government did, so maybe you should place the blame were it belongs, on the Government and not us because the People are no longer the representitives of our Government, we are just slaves.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/F64NWR2RGAJJMJ7XWTLX53MY7I Charles Thompson

    I agree that we need to end the drug war, but these people must be brain dead if they think banning guns is a good idea. If the drug war didn’t work why would a war on guns? Shame. I would have supported this group if it was not for the stupid anti-gun lies. LONG LIVE FREEDOM!

  • neanderthal75

    This article is just another example of VERY shoddy reporting, lackluster research which indicates exceedingly LAZY professional work habits, and frankly, a total disregard for the empirical evidence which is readily and widely available: for anyone actually honest enough and interested enough to look.

    Mr. Keane is correct: the correct number is 12%, NOT 70%. Further, no comparative analysis of evidence is given for reason the war is waged in the first place; the utter horror and devastation which drugs cause tens of MILLIONS of families across America.

    No mention NICU’s (Neonatal Intensive Care Units) in hospitals across country trying keep babies who were born drug addicts alive. No mention of the murders committed in the US by drug addicts robbing, raping, and executing people in order to by more drugs.

    Further, not a single word about the average cop on the beat, or the lone Deputy Sheriff out on patrol who did a ‘routine traffic stop’ of a Drug Mule vehicle and was murdered for their effort to keep the roads safe.

    This article is just more leftist propaganda without any respect for the truth of what is really going on in the USA because of Mexican Drug Cartels.

  • Jake S.

    Rather than wait for my comment (which included links to .gov, .mil, and other non-partisan, authoritative third-party sites to back up my facts) to be approved, I will repost it without them:

    “The Mexican drug cartels tend to favour AK-47 and AR-15 assault weapons, the group says, which are easily available at almost all U.S. gun shops near the U.S.-Mexican border.”
    Even if you accept the politicized label of the AR-15 as a [so-called] “assault weapon,” the /actual/ (i.e. military/police) classification of an AK-47 is as an “assault rifle.” It is a select-fire weapon (i.e. includes some mode of ‘automatic’ fire) and, thus, regulated under the National Firearms Act of 1934. The AR-15 is [by definition] a semi-automatic weapon, and is not subject to regulation under the Act.
    I am otherwise supportive of the Caravan For Peace and regret that their tour did not pass through my city (or anywhere within traveling distance), but they apparently know absolutely nothing about firearms and are comparing fully-automatic and select-fire apples with semi-automatic oranges.
    Sure, some cartel members might like the [again, semi-automatic] AR-15 platform, but I’m sure that ANY cartel member would prefer the select-fire M16 rifle (or M4 carbine). You don’t find THOSE in U.S. gun shops… cartel members primarily get those from other countries, or when Mexican military and police walk off the job* and into the employ of the cartels.
    *after receiving specialized training from U.S. military and police units, and select-fire M16-pattern weapons via the DOD’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and State Department’s Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) programs, of course

  • Lophat

    It seems to me that the problem lies in the huge demand, and addictive trends for citizens in the U.S. and the West for illicit drugs as the reason for the large drug cartels across our borders, and the need for arms to protect their productive drug ‘territories’. If the demand were less, I doubt if there would be such a big problem with cartels as they now exist. Secondly, it is an established, and reported fact that the U.S. is the world’s largest arms dealer, even by-passing Russia & China so logic dictates that it would be easier to obtain the arms from sources right across the border …… the U.S. English & Spanish spoken!

  • Jake S.

    “It seems to me that the problem lies in the huge demand”

    Good luck changing that. Prohibition costs. And it failed last time we
    tried it, so why do we think it’ll be any different this time around?!?

    “Secondly, it is an established, and reported fact that the U.S. is the world’s largest arms dealer, even by-passing Russia & China…”

    Come on… I included links (see below) when making my assertions. The least you could do is the same. Provided your claim holds up, I’d be willing to wager that your “source” doesn’t break it down between governmental and non-governmental sources.

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