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US has long way to go to show Mexico what kind of ally it is in stemming war on US doorstep

LatinaLista — The latest senseless killing in Mexico that claimed the lives of 52 people at a Monterrey casino at the hands of cartel extortionists finally shocked some reaction out of the country’s government.

casino-royale-monterrey-3-e1314724517252.jpg The five men detained in the fire of Casino Royale in Monterrey confirmed they had no plans to kill anyone and only wanted to teach a lesson to the owners for not paying the extortion.
(Photo: La Primera Plana)

The casino death toll, comprised of 35 women, finally crystallized for the Mexican government — notorious for not responding appropriately to the violence that is already drowning the country — that they have a bigger problem on their hands than just drug cartels fighting for turf. They have bona fide domestic terrorists.

In fact, President Calderon, in his address to the nation about the murders, said, “It is evident that we are not faced with ordinary delinquents but by actual terrorists who know no boundaries.”

Franc Contreras, a reporter for Al Jazeera English based in Mexico, tweeted, “By calling the Monterrey massacre a terrorist act, Calderon opens the possibility of Mexico receiving UN help under Security Resolution 1373.”

According to Contreras, Security Resolution 1373 was adopted after the 9/11 attacks and considers drug traffickers as possible terrorists.

Hours after the slaughter, Calderon didn’t just condemn the murderers for their actions but, in what has been consistent criticism from Calderon and prominent members of Mexico’s business and private communities, reiterated that the blame lies directly at the feet of the United States.

“The economic power and firepower of the criminal organizations operating in Mexico and Latin America come from this endless demand for drugs in the United States,” Calderon said. “We are neighbors, we are allies, we are friends, but also, you are responsible. That is my message.”

As of yet, the United States hasn’t seriously accepted the blame or taken enough preventive measures necessary to ensure that the firepower used in the casino killing isn’t still finding its way to merciless murderers for other senseless massacres.

Not even after a report was issued in June 2011 authored by Senators Dianne Feinstein, Charles Schumer and Sheldon Whitehouse, titled Halting U.S. Firearms Trafficking to Mexico, which found that 87 percent of firearms seized by Mexican authorities and traced over the previous five years originated in the United States.

Up till now, the US’s lukewarm acceptance of culpability has been justified by gun rights groups hell bent on not having their Second Amendment rights infringed upon, and who have heavily lobbied Congress to see it their way.

But what happens when the world starts seeing the US role in Mexico’s violence as an aider and abettor to terrorists? It may have already started and could be the explanations for today’s events in Washington.

Today, there was a sign that the US government is finally realizing it has to do something to show that it’s being proactive against the escalating Mexican violence.

Out of the blue, it was announced that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Acting Director Kenneth Melson was being replaced. Sources say it’s because of his involvement in the “gunwalker” scandal.

The gunwalking scandal centered on an ATF program that allowed thousands of high-caliber weapons to knowingly be sold to so-called “straw buyers” who are suspected as middlemen for criminals. Those weapons, according to the Justice Dept., have been tied to at least 12 violent crimes in the United States, and an unknown number of violent crimes in Mexico.

Dubbed operation “Fast and Furious,” the plan was designed to gather intelligence on gun sales, but ATF agents have told CBS News and members of Congress that they were routinely ordered to back off and allow weapons to “walk” when sold.

The timing of these developments in the gunwalking scandal is suspect but it’s a welcome sign that the US is taking that first step in accepting it does have a role in the gun violence in Mexico.

Unfortunately, real help can’t be delivered until the US accepts responsibility for the grossly inadequate gun laws on the books that are enabling a whole slew of domestic terrorists to not only flourish in Mexico and beyond but strengthen a whole new war closer to home.


(Editor’s note: Latina Lista has accepted participation in the Media Matters Gun Facts fellowship. This post is written as part of the Media Matters Gun Facts fellowship. The purpose of the fellowship is to further Media Matters’ mission to comprehensively monitor, analyze, and correct conservative misinformation in the US media. Some of the worst misinformation occurs around the issue of guns, gun violence and extremism, the fellowship program is designed to fight this misinformation with facts.) 

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