One of the main reasons why the levels of violence in Mexico have increased consistently since the beginning of the century, if measured in terms of homicides, is the availability of weapons that come mainly from the United States, said the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon.

"If we do not have the possibility that the U.S. assumes co-responsibility in the rates of violence in our country through the availability of weapons, it will be very difficult to reduce them". For this reason, the Mexican government has been preparing for two years of strategic litigation against gun producers and distributors in that nation.

It is based on something new: the negligence of the companies that produce weapons designed for use, especially by those linked to drug trafficking, the foreign minister stressed. "The companies have acted negligently and that causes enormous costs in Mexico, especially in human lives."

In a message delivered during the Seminar "Strategic Litigation vs. Arms Producers and Distributors" organized by the Faculty of Law (FD) of the UNAM, he added that this is the first time that Mexico has presented a case of this magnitude in this matter.

He said that in the U.S. there have been no measures to restrict the arms trade. "Something had to be done because the manufacturing companies are co-responsible for the violence we suffer in the country". Now, there will be a response from the industry and then Mexico will have another time to present additional elements to that response.

"It will be very important to have the support of the University's Law School and other study centers to perfect the litigation and that our country wins this lawsuit, which would set a very important precedent to begin to modify the unrestricted access to weapons, and have an impact on a decrease in the number of homicides and violence in the country," he said.

At the inauguration of the seminar, the director of the Faculty, Raul Contreras Bustamante, said that since there is a strong regulation in our country on the use and carrying of weapons, the initiative of the Mexican Foreign Ministry that points to the international perspective of combating the flow of illegal weapons, which has caused havoc in Mexico, becomes relevant.

The community is interested in learning about, analyzing, and collaborating in the transcendent work of the Foreign Ministry, which constitutes a bold and innovative action in public service and in the conduct of Mexican foreign policy. The spirit of participation between our institutions has the objective of contributing, from academia and foreign service to the welfare of Mexico, he said.

At table 1 of the forum, moderated by university academic Alfonso Muñoz de Cote, the SRE's legal consultant, Alejandro Celorio Alcántara, explained that there are other positive results in the litigation, such as the fight against illicit trafficking and the immorality of companies that benefit economically from the manufacture, distribution, and sale of arms, at the cost of death, injuries and the feeling of insecurity that Mexicans experience.

We obtained public information on the number of guns found and seized at crime scenes in Mexico in the last 10 years, and identified the distributing and selling companies, which have their businesses in Massachusetts, "where the appellate circuit is not so conservative and has shown openness to address the issue". Thus, we sued in the federal court in that state of the American Union, he said.

The consultant emphasized that this is a civil lawsuit in which the Mexican government argues that it has suffered direct and indirect damages due to the negligent and unlawful commercial practices of various companies, such as Barrett.

The companies must know who buys their products, that their buyers are loan sharks or people with criminal records, that they acquire several high-powered weapons in the same transaction, and other issues that result in a direct indication of civil liability. In this context, Alejandro Celorio pointed out that they had never faced the fact that a foreign government sued them for direct and indirect damages.

María de Haas Matamoros, a specialist in national security, said that the lawsuit has a solid foundation and defends Mexico's legal dignity. It was stated that 70 percent of the weapons entering the country illegally are of U.S. origin, manufactured by the companies sued and enter through the border cities: San Diego-Tijuana, El Paso-Ciudad Juárez, Laredo-Nuevo Laredo, McAllen-Reynosa, and Brownsville-Matamoros.

The systemic impacts of arms trafficking that affect national objectives are evident: loss of human lives, decrease in economic sectors, such as tourism, due to insecurity, or the extortion suffered by farmers to work their land, threats from criminal groups to businessmen, or theft of merchandise. "With a favorable judicial ruling, a precedent will be set and the beginning of a new era of pacification in Mexico will be fostered," he said.

Gerardo Gil Valdivia, of the FD, explained that the lawsuit, solidly supported, develops the concept of "willful blindness" that allows companies not to follow up on what they should do according to the regulations. In addition, the defendants facilitate illicit trafficking because they maximize their sales and profits, he mentioned.

Marleck Ríos Nava, also from that academic entity, said that every year more than half a million weapons are illegally trafficked into our country and used in illicit activities against the civilian population and public forces, which generates damage of up to 1.5 percent of Mexico's GDP, in medical care costs, loss of tourism, trade, among other items.

Summary

For two years the Mexican government prepared strategic litigation against these producers and distributors, explained Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon.

The UNAM and the SRE are joining forces to study and develop proposals to improve national security, said FD director Raúl Contreras Bustamante.

Information was obtained on the number of weapons found and seized at crime scenes in Mexico, said the SRE's legal consultant, Alejandro Celorio Alcántara.

María de Haas Matamoros, a specialist in national security, said that the lawsuit is solidly grounded.

The litigation is divided into several well-documented chapters, added Gerardo Gil Valdivia, of the FD.

Marleck Ríos Nava, from that academic entity, recalled that every year more than half a million weapons are trafficked into Mexico and used in illicit activities.

Source: UNAM