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Mexico’s president called on U.S. officials to stop gun trafficking across the border, saying it would be the best thing Americans could do to stop drug violence.
“The criminals have become more and more vicious in their eagerness to spark fear and anxiety in society,” President Felipe Calderon said. “One of the main factors that allows criminals to strengthen themselves is the unlimited access to high-powered weapons, which are sold freely, and also indiscriminately, in the United States of America.”
Speaking in Ciudad Juarez, Pres. Calderon said an increase in violence in Mexico was connected with the 2004 end of the U.S. assault weapons ban.
The Mexican president has asked U.S. lawmakers to renew the ban on assault weapons before, most notably in a 2010 speech to the U.S. Congress.
The backdrop Thursday was different. Pres. Calderon stood in front of a new sign, constructed with tons of decommissioned arms. “NO MORE WEAPONS,” the sign said in English. Americans across the border are the intended audience, he said.
“From here, from Ciudad Juarez, on the border of Mexico and the United States, we say, ‘No more weapons. No more weapons to Mexico,'” he said.
Pres. Calderon praised President Barack Obama’s efforts to deal with the “very sensitive issue” of assault weapons, noting that his administration had done more than previous leaders to investigate and block illegal weapons trafficking to Mexico.
“They have taken positive steps, but we all know that unfortunately it is not enough, and we cannot stop here,” he said.
Out of 140,000 weapons Mexican authorities have seized since Pres. Calderon declared a crackdown on cartels, 84,000 were high-powered assault weapons.
More than 47,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico since December 2006, according to government statistics.
During his Thursday speech, Calderon looked toward the border and said he had a message for Americans:
We need your help to stop this violence. We need you to reduce your consumption of drugs and to dramatically reduce the flow of money to criminal organizations in Mexico. But beyond the topic of drugs, the best way that you, the American people, can help reduce the violence in Mexico is through legislation that has already been in force in the United States, blocking the inhumane weapons trafficking into our country.