Thursday, February 16, 2012

"Dear friends in the United States - please, no more assault weapons to Mexico"

An arsenal of 100,000 firearms destroyed - most made or sold in the U.S.A.

Speaking in clear, firm and precise English to an American audience he could only hope would listen later via news accounts, president Felipe Calderón today implored the United States to shut off the "inhuman flow of assault weapons to Mexico" which he said are fueling the violent drug war here. Calderón also called upon his U.S. counterparts to "get drug consumption under control" in their country. The themes are recurrent ones for the National Action Party president, who leaves office this year.

While in Chihuahua to preside over a massive weapons destruction ceremony, Calderón spoke beneath a huge sign in English which read "No More Weapons." More than 100,000 firearms, cartridges and items of military ordnance have been seized by Mexican armed forces since December 11, 2006, the date on which the National Security Strategy - derisively referred to by some critics as "Calderón's drug war" - was launched 10 days after he took office. The weapons destroyed today were those decommissioned through January 30, 2012.

On a chilly day under gray skies president Calderón addressed not his countrymen, but his powerful neighbor to the north:

"Dear friends in the United States: Mexico needs your help in order to stop the terrible violence we are suffering. The best way to do that is by stopping the flow of assault weapons towards Mexico. Please, no more weapons to Mexico."

On November 1, 2011, an assistant U.S. attorney general told Senator Dianne Feinstein (D. Calif.), that of the then approximately 94,000 weapons seized by Mexican troops since the anti-cartel offensive began, at least 64,000 could be directly traced back to the United States, and perhaps more. That number represented about 68%, but Mexico has said that 80% of all firearms it seizes from drug traffickers came from the United States.

U.S. congressional committees are currently investigating two now defunct secret arms sales programs which were conducted by federal law enforcement agencies. Both were revealed last year. In Fast and Furious, over 2,000 assault weapons were allowed to be sold to Mexican drug criminals from various locations in Arizona between 2009 and early 2011, after Barack Obama took office. A similar program, Wide Receiver, lasted from 2006 to 2007 during the administration of former president George W. Bush. The purpose of both was to monitor the use of the military grade firearms, and track cartel movements via hidden GPS devices imbedded in the guns. The operations were spectacular failures.

Fast and Furious was operated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Wide Receiver by the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco (ATF). The existence of the programs was acknowledged in early 2011, and set off a firestorm of controversy in the United States and Mexico. Both president Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder denied having knowledge of either operation until shortly before whistle blower reports of them publicly surfaced.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R. Calif.) chairs a House committee investigating the secret arms sales. In October he said that they had been used to kill at least 200 people during Mexico's drug war. In a December interview with Spanish language media, Issa claimed that the progams have caused Mexico to lose confidence in the United States. In November Attorney General Holder acknowledged to a Senate committee studying the matter that the operations were mistakes which should never have happened.

Today Speaker of the House John Boehner (Rep. Ohio) characterized Fast and Furious as "an abuse of power by the United States government." Earlier this week Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said that "serious errors" were committed in both operations which must not be repeated.

The highlight of today's ceremony in Chihuahua was Calderón's detonation of 10 buried hand grenades, accomplished by pressing a remote control button in front of an audience of hundreds of military and civilian officials. Shortly before, a heavy battle tank slowly ran over tens of thousands of firearms of every type, crushing the weapons which had been carefully aligned in an open field at a military base. All of the firearms had been partially disassembled and deactivated by troops before today's final destruction.

Jan. 18 - "Fast and Furious" arms were involved in shootout which killed Miss Sinaloa
Editorial: In drug war, boundaries and "national sovereignty" mean nothing
Editorial: Mexico's Continuing Agony

July 22 - U.S. weapons laws hurt everybody. In the wake of the Aurora, Colorado shootings which left a dozen theater patrons dead and many more injured, Calderón issued a message of condolence on behalf of all Mexicans. But he again urged the U.S. Congress to reconsider "mistaken gun legislation" which poses a "threat to all."

Previous reports on U.S. gun running operations:;
and: <;
and: ;

No comments:

Post a Comment