Mexican actor Diego Luna–who lives part time in Los Angeles, stars with Mark Wahlberg and Kate Beckinsale in the upcoming Contraband, and was a lead in Y Tu Mamá También–is urging Obama to curb sales of guns that could end up in the hands of Mexican narcotics traffickers and other criminals tied to Mexico’s rampant drug-related violence. In December the actor spoke to Americas Quarterly about Mexico:
Because of the lack of border controls, many weapons are entering the country. And corruption [shows] that money rules above all else. This is a country where many underage children work. That says a lot. With few opportunities, social resentment becomes an issue. And that contributes to the rise of quick and easy businesses. The problems we face are not unique to us.We are part of something much bigger. There has to be a market like the U.S. to fuel the situation. The guns have to be coming from somewhere. Money is moving and changing hands and not only in this country. Right now we are living the worst of it.
Luna joined activists Thursday in Mexico City as they launched a cross-border petition drive calling for
Obama to enforce the prohibition against the importation of assault weapons and parts manufactured in other countries into the United States — to prevent such weapons from being bought in the United States and illegally trafficked into Mexico. The spokesperson said that the petition also calls for ordering weapons dealers to report to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) the sale of multiple assault rifles to the same person over a period of five days. And it calls for increasing the regulatory capacity of the ATF in those regions of the United States that supply the weapons contraband to Mexico, especially in border states.
Drug related violence has claimed the lives of between 34,000 to 40,000 people in Mexic0 since 2006. AsMexican gun laws are far stricter than those stateside, Mexican leaders have pointed out many weapons used by hit men are smuggled from the United States. In 2009, the United States launched an investigation into the cross-border sales of weapons. The LA Times reports:
ATF officials have acknowledged that at least 195 weapons sold under the investigation have been recovered in Mexico, traced as a matter of routine via serial numbers after their recovery from crime scenes, arrests and searches.
The weapons were among about 2,000 guns purchased by unlicensed dealers who were subjects of a controversial federal gun-trafficking investigation launched in 2009 in which hundreds of the weapons were allowed to fall into hands of violent drug traffickers in Mexico and criminals in the U.S. The investigation, known as “Operation Fast and Furious,” was ended after Terry’s death in 2010.
In May, during their show at Aztec Stadium, U2 made mention of the gun running and drug violence. Lead singer Bono, who had earlier met with Mexican president Felix Calderon, spoke to the audience:
I want you to send a message of love along the border to the good and the great people of the United States of America. I want you to send a message to people of conscience. Ask them to answer the question:Why is it that all we hear on the news is that drugs are smuggled through Mexico to the United States, and we don’t hear about all the automatic weapons that are being smuggled into Mexico from the United States? More than 9,000 registered arms dealers on the other side of the border. Most of the murders committed here are from weapons sold in the United States of America.
Late in the evening, April 15
Automatic round takes a mother and child.
Free at last, they took your life
A lioness and her pride
In the name of love….
One documentary, which is currently being viewed in Mexico, is called Presunto Culpable, and it deeply disturbed me. It is a true story about a young man who spent more than 300 days in jail even though he was innocent. The documentary details the trial, as seen from his point of view. It makes you sick and ashamed…After Presunto Culpable was released, some judges changed their verdict, and the young man is now free. I believe this is what Witness is about. There is nothing more terrible than living a case such as this, but [even] worse is losing one’s will to get out, to fight, to set things right and fix life´s path. Video is a great mechanism and vehicle to attain this.
Canana, Witness and the Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights (CMDPDH) have joined forces to produce a documentary about the murders of hundreds of unsolved murders of women in Cuidad Juarez.
photo of Diego Luna: video screenshot