Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Mexico sues U.S. gunmakers (Aug. 4, 2021)

Mexico's government sued several major gun manufacturers in a U.S. federal court today, alleging that their negligent controls contribute to the illegal flow of weapons over the border and fuel significant violence in Mexico.

“For decades, the government and its citizens have been victimized by a deadly flood of military-style and other particularly lethal guns that flows from the U.S. across the border,” the lawsuit reads. The flood of weaponry is “the foreseeable result of the defendants’ deliberate actions and business practices.” 

Among those being sued are some of the biggest names in guns, including: Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc.; Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, Inc.; Beretta U.S.A. Corp.; Colt’s Manufacturing Company LLC, and Glock Inc. Another defendant is Interstate Arms, a Boston-area wholesaler that sells guns from all but one of the named manufacturers to dealers around the U.S.

The lawsuit maintains that the U.S. arms manufacturers “are conscious of the fact that their products are trafficked and used in illicit activities against the civilian population and authorities of Mexico." Mexico wants compensation for the havoc the guns have wrought in its country, reports the Associated Press. The lawsuit also seeks tighter controls on sales and better security features on weapons. It calls on the companies to undertake studies and media campaigns to prevent arms trafficking, reports the Washington Post.

Mexico has recorded record-high homicide rates in recent years, driven in part by weapons from the United States in violation of Mexico's stricter gun ownership laws, reports Reuters. The U.S. Justice Department found that 70 percent of the firearms submitted for tracing in Mexico between 2014 and 2018 originated in the United States, reports the New York Times.

The Mexican government said that U.S. gun laws have a direct effect on violence in Mexico. When the U.S. assault weapons ban ended in 2004, gun makers “exploited the opening to vastly increase production, particularly of the military-style assault weapons favored by the drug cartels," said the government in its lawsuit. At the same time, killings in Mexico began to rise, reaching record levels in 2018, when more than 36,000 people were killed across the country.

Nicaraguan VP candidate arrested

Nicaraguan authorities placed opposition politician Berenice Quezada under house arrest last night, the day after she registered as a vice presidential candidate on the Citizens Alliance for Liberty ticket. She is the latest to be arrested in a crackdown against government opponents that has jailed most of President Daniel Ortega's potential challengers in November's elections. (Reuters)

She was detained in relation to declarations in which she said Nicaragua's lacks civil liberties, and called on people to participate in the November 7 election, despite the guarantees for a free and fair vote, reports Confidencial. She said the Ortega government has 130 political detainees.

The Citizens Alliance decided to maintain its list for lawmakers and departmental officials a secret, in order to protect candidates in the midst of the government crackdown that has already detained 32 people since May, reports Confidencial.

News Briefs

Regional Relations
  • Former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva called on Nicaraguan leader Daniel Ortega not to "abandon" democracy, and said "alternation" in government would be good. The international leftist icon spoke in an interview with Mexican journalist Sabrina Berman. He said that leaders who consider themselves imprescindible drive their countries to dictatorship. "I think that there has to be a change in the governance of a country so that society can improve its democratic participation," he said. (Confidencial)
  • U.S. President Joe Biden appointed an emissary to meet with Brazilian governors of Amazon states, circumventing Brazil's national government, reports Folha de S. Paulo. National Security advisor Jake Sullivan is scheduled to meet with nine governors of the Interstate Consortium of the Legal Amazon tomorrow to discuss deforestation in the rainforest and international financing mechanisms for protection projects. It will be the second meeting in a week between a senior U.S. official and governors, after U.S. special climate envoy John Kerry met with another group of governors. Brazilian environmental activists and opposition politicians have pushed the U.S. to avoid dealing only with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, whose commitment to combating deforestation they question. (See April 13's post, for example.)
  • Bolsonaro condemned a judicial investigation into his unsubstantiated claims that the country’s electronic voting system is vulnerable to irregularities, saying he refuses to be "intimidated," reports Al Jazeera. (See yesterday's post.)
  • A cold spike in Brazil has affected dozens of cities in the country's south, threatening agriculture and driving a temporary spike in global coffee prices, reports the Washington Post.
  • The Nation interviews Erica Malunguinho, Brazil's first trans state legislator and creator of Aparelha Luzia, a cultural refuge for Black queer and trans people.
  • Haitian olice have detained more than 40 suspects in the killing of President Jovenel Moïse, but many people fear Haiti’s crumbling judicial system could result in the assassination going unpunished, reports the Associated Press.
  • Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry doesn't believe any of the dozens of detainees had the capacity to organize the complex assassination plot. “I think there were a lot of people involved; there were people with access to a lot of money,” he told the New York Times. (See last Friday's briefs.)
  • Nearly a month after the murder, "the circumstances remain just as murky, with no shortage of suspects and speculation—and more new questions than answers," reports the Wall Street Journal. Key investigators are in hiding after receiving death threats.
  • First lady Martine Moïse, who survived the attack, said gunmen searched through papers when they killed the president, and seemed to be looking for something specific. None of his usual security detail were on scene, she told CNN.
  • Jamaican police authorities ordered an internal investigation after a 19-year-old woman claimed an officer forcibly cut off her dreadlocks that she had grown since birth as part of her Rastafarian beliefs, reports the Washington Post.
  • Colombian General Mario Montoya is facing murder charges, alleged to have overseen the abduction and execution of up to 104 civilians who were falsely described as rebels to boost statistics, in a scandal known as the "false positives." It is a major turnaround for a figure formerly celebrated as the face of a modern military for Colombia, reports the Guardian.
  • If the US really cared about freedom in Cuba, it would end its punishing sanctions, argues Helen Yaffe in the Guardian.
  • Cuban poet Néstor Díaz de Villegas explores the dilemmas of helping family on the island, and, in the process, financing the Cuban government, in the New York Times Español.
Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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