Reducing violence in Mexico will be very difficult if the United States doesn’t do more to stop the illegal flow of weapons into the country, Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard said Wednesday.
Addressing a National Autonomous University seminar on the federal government’s legal action against United States-based gun manufacturers, Ebrard said that a main reason why violence in Mexico has been increasing since the start of the 21st century is the availability of firearms, mainly those from the United States.
“Of course we’re not saying … that Mexico should excuse itself from everything it must do … to control the entry of these weapons into our country and their distribution and use. But it’s clear that without the possibility of the United States assuming co-responsibility for the rates of violence in Mexico through the availability of weapons … it will be very difficult for us to be able to reduce violence in our country,” he said in a video message.
The foreign minister said the government’s lawsuit against 11 gun manufacturers – which was filed in a U.S. federal court in Boston last month – was prepared over a period of two years.
“… It’s a lawsuit regarding the negligence of companies that produce arms, they even produce arms that are directed at the adolescent market and … designed for use by those who are linked to drug trafficking,” Ebrard said.
He rejected claims that the “very powerful” firearms industry in the United States will easily win the case because Mexico has a “good point in its favor, which demonstrates that these companies have acted negligently and this negligence is provoking enormous effects and costs in Mexico, especially in [terms of] human lives.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) said in 2019 that firearms from the United States are used in seven out of every 10 high-impact crimes committed in Mexico. Hundreds of thousands of weapons per year are estimated to cross into the country via the northern border.
Mexico alleges that gun manufacturers such as Smith & Wesson and Barrett Firearms know that their business practices contribute to illegal arms trafficking in Mexico and are used in violent crimes.
“Nonetheless, they continue to prioritize their economic benefit, and use marketing strategies to promote weapons that are ever more lethal, without mechanisms of security or traceability,” the SRE said in a document filed as part of the lawsuit.
The gun manufacturers the federal government is suing will have until November 22 to present their response to Mexico’s lawsuit, according to the SRE, after which both sides will have further opportunities to present additional arguments and counterarguments.
Mexico is seeking financial compensation from the gun companies but has not specified an amount. However, Mexican officials have estimated that damages could be as high as US $10 billion if the lawsuit is successful, although that appears unlikely because a U.S. federal law shields gun manufacturers from most civil liability claims.
In talks with the United States government, Ebrard has tried to manage the weapons smuggling issue as a quid pro quo negotiation: Mexico will prioritize combatting the trafficking of drugs to the United States in exchange for authorities in the U.S. doing more to stop the shipment of weapons to the south.
He said last month that U.S. authorities have been willing to work with Mexico to stem the flow of weapons. Former United States ambassador to Mexico, Christopher Landau, said earlier this year that the U.S. had offered equipment to Mexico to help control illegal arms trafficking but the Mexican government rejected it. An SRE official subsequently accused Landau of lying.
Mexico News Daily