WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
11 Aug 2011

Diego Luna, Javier Sicilia, Sergio Aguayo of Alianza Civica, and WOLA promote international campaign against arms trafficking

Mexico City – This morning, Javier Sicilia, Diego Luna, Alianza Civica, and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) hosted a press conference in the Museum of Memory and Tolerance to promote the international campaign Stop Gun Smuggling: 3 Things President Obama CAN Do.

Diego Luna pointed out, “These guns are behind the violence that has left thousands of families mourning. The campaign asks for three small, timely actions that could have a big impact in Mexico as well as the United States. Indifference is a very dangerous thing; it’s in our hands to do something, and a good first step is signing this petition.”

In Mexico, these arms – particularly assault rifles like AK-47s – are behind the enormous rise in deaths, kidnappings, and assaults,” said Sergio Aguayo of Alianza Civica. “Better control on these weapons in the United States would save lives in Mexico.”

This campaign shows President Obama bi-national support in his efforts at better arms control,” said Maureen Meyer of WOLA. “Thousands of people on both sides of the border have supported this campaign, and better arms control would benefit both countries.”

The campaign Stop Gun Smuggling is a part of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity in Mexico, which began May 8, 2011. This campaign will present a letter to President Obama asking for his administration to take three specific actions that would help stop the illegal trafficking of arms between the United States and Mexico. These actions would not require the approval of Congress. In addition to opening a dialogue on this issue, the campaign looks to save lives and build democracy in Mexico.

Shortly after it began, the campaign had its first victory. On July 11, the U.S. Department of Justice announced new regulations on the sale of multiple assault weapons to a single buyer. These regulations affect the border states of Texas, California, Arizona, and New Mexico.

This provision will go into effect August 14, completing the petition’s second point:

– Order 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.

Despite the August 3 lawsuit by the National Rifle Association (NRA) to stop the implementation of the new regulation, the U.S. government has maintained its stance. The campaign continues to support the U.S. government in this announcement and plans to intensify their work to achieve the other two demands of President Obama:

– Immediately detain and prohibit the importation of assault weapons to the United States, because many of them are sent as contraband to Mexico.

– Increase the regulatory capacity of the ATF in those regions of the United States that supply the weapons contraband to Mexico, especially in border states.

This initiative is coordinated in Mexico by Alianza Civica and Propuesta Civica, and in the United States by WOLA, the Latin America Working Group (LAWG), and Global Exchange, among others. Thanks to the collaboration of these different organizations and the participation of international civil society, the petition has already garnered more than 10,000 signatures.

The complete letter, information about the campaign, and different ways to participate – how to be a volunteer, sign the petition or make a donation – are available at: http://www.alianzacivica.org.mx/altoalasarmas/

Kristel Mucino, Communications Director, WOLA
(617) 584-1713, [email protected]