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Mexico looks north to curtail trail of violence

MEXICO CITY — Mexicans reacted with grief but little surprise to news of the Newtown massacre. This is a country that has spent the last six years watching its own citizens die by the tens of thousands from weapons provided illegally by arms dealers in the United States, and in some cases with the blessing of the federal government.

According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearm’s own figures, some 68% of all firearms recovered from Mexican crimes scenes can be traced back to U.S. manufacturers or dealers. Weapons used in the ATF’s now-infamous Operation Fast and Furious, which allowed gun-smuggling from the U.S. into Mexico, are also involved in Mexico’s tragedies.

Mexico’s Congress passed a multi-party Dec. 27 statement of solidarity with the U.S. people in the wake of the tragedy and made a formal petition to the U.S. government to clamp down on lax gun sales.
“We Mexicans hope these kinds of incidents can be prevented from repeating with stricter regulation for the sale of arms, as well as putting a stop to violence, caused by the flow of arms, that has cost human lives on both sides of the border,” said Sen. Gabriela Cuevas, a member of the right-wing National Action Party, in a statement with the resolution.

As for onscreen violence influencing real life, in a tragedy that seems ripped straight from Gerardo Naranjo’s “Miss Bala,” Miss Sinaloa, Maria Susana Flores Gomez, was gunned down in her home state Nov. 23 during a confrontation between suspected drug cartel members and authorities.

After the Sandy Hook shooting, as condolences rolled in from world leaders, including Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto, local media outlets also quickly picked up on a Facebook post by Mexico-born guitarist Carlos Santana, which attacked a culture of violence in the United States perpetuated by “wars abroad and incarceration at home.”

While that post was eventually removed from Santana’s page, it resounded here with critics who feel the U.S. has forgotten its own role in the violence in Mexico.

In a radio interview with CNN Espanol, Dr. Feggy Ostrosky, the nation’s preeminent neuropsychologist and a professor at the UNAM, Mexico’s largest university, described the nature of the alienation faced many young men from middle- and upper-class upbringings in the U.S., and the relative ease in obtaining assault weapons there. She also pointed to videogames as a training ground for violence.

Meanwhile, speaking to political magazine Proceso, Guatamalan Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rigoberta Menchu Tum said that while the Newtown massacre was tragic, it was a consequence of policies based in war and the indiscriminate sale of arms.

 

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