About 2.2 percent of all weapons purchased in the United States end up in Mexico, according to a statistical analysis by the Igarapé Institute and the University of San Diego Transborder Institute.
Brazil inaugurated a new shipyard and military base, which will host a plan, requiring investment of US$3.9 billion through 2017, to build and host five sumbarines (one of them nuclear) and 50 helicopters. The plan, carried out with French support, will produce the nuclear sub by 2023.
Brazil’s Embraer aerospace company won a U.S. contract to provide Afghanistan’s air force with 20 Super Tucano light air support aircraft. The contract is valued at US$427 million but could go as high as US$950 million.
Brazil’s defense ministry is recommending that the government buy Russian-made anti-aircraft systems: “We are interested in acquiring three batteries of medium level Pantsir-S1 missiles and two batteries of Igla missiles.”
Connecticut-based Sikorsky Aircraft, maker of the Blackhawk helicopter, “is tripling the size of its in-country Blackhawk maintenance service team in Colombia, as the company repairs seven helicopters.” With more than 60 of the helicopters, which cost at least US$15 million apiece, Colombia has the fourth-largest Blackhawk fleet in the world.
Of weapons that Colombian paramilitary members turned in during 2003-2006 demobilization ceremonies, the majority came from countries that have never officially sold arms to Colombia. The weapons’ top five countries of origin were the United States, Russia, Bulgaria, North Korea and China.
Canada is amending its Automatic Firearms Country Control List (AFCCL) to allow expanded military hardware sales to Colombia. According to the Canadian foreign ministry, the intent is to sell armored personnel carriers to Colombia’s military.
The French corporations DCNS and Thales have been carrying out a contract to modernize Colombian Navy frigates.
In 2012, according to Colombia’s defense ministry, in 2012 the country’s armed forces and police trained “3,252 foreign students in different areas, among them 24 Mexican and four Dominican pilots.”
With help from the U.S. Justice Department Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Guatemalan government’s National Forensic Sciences Institute can now use the “E-Trace” system, which determines whether recovered weapons were sold in the United States.
Ecuador paid US$10 million for 107 Hummer vehicles from the United States: 100 for its army and 7 for its navy.
Peru has ordered five Hovercraft amphibious patrol boats from the United Kingdom for about US$13 million. They will be used to “strengthen the fight against terrorism and narcotrafficking in the Apurímac, Ene and Mantaro River Valleys (VRAEM),” a region where conflict continues with remnants of the Shining Path guerrillas.
The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) delivered a petition, developed in cooperation with more than a dozen human rights and anti-gun violence groups, to Vice-President Biden’s gun control task force. It was signed by 55,000 people from the United States and Mexico. A copy was also delivered to the American Embassy in Mexico City. The petition called for executive actions to curtail the rampant smuggling into Mexico of weapons purchased in the United States. Speaking to reporters at a separate event in Washington, ambassador Eduardo Medina Mora said, “The Second Amendment … is not, was never and should not be designed to arm foreign criminal groups.” President Obama’s Wednesday announcement of 23 actions he plans to take to address gun violence did not include any of the actions requested in the petition.
On Christmas Eve, Mexico City’s government launched a cash-for-weapons exchange program, “Por Tu Familia Desarme Voluntario” or “For your family: Voluntary disarmament.” Officials in charge of the program decided to extend the exchange past December 31 after 900 weapons were exchanged for cash, toys and tablet computers. Mexico’s Defense Department recognizes that only one of every 300 weapons circulating in the country is legal.
An Ecuadorian general said he has seen an increase in FARC arms-trafficking activity near the Colombian border since the process started. FARC negotiator Rodrigo Granda denied it, saying the FARC are instead arming themselves with “much patience and many arguments” for the talks, and blaming “the extreme right in the continent taking shots at the peace process.”
Canada changed its Automatic Firearms Country Control List to allow the export of weapons and devices that are prohibited in Canada — such as fully automatic firearms — to Colombia. The change came after a recommendation by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird. Canada’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs dismissed objections based on concerns about armed conflict and human rights in Colombia.
Colombia’s Air Force increased its order to Airbus Military, a European military and defense manufacturer, from five C295 transport planes to six. Colombia has already received four of the planes and now awaits the arrival of two more. The first four cost 100 million euros (US$133 million).
(Written with assistance from WOLA Intern Elizabeth Glusman)
Mexico's Alianza Cívica is asking people worldwide to sign this electronic petition, which asks President Obama to take three steps to limit the torrent of U.S.-purchased weapons illegally entering Mexico.
Immediately detain and prohibit the importation of assault weapons to the United States, because many of them are sent as contraband to Mexico.
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.
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.
The ease with which criminals obtain high-powered weapons at U.S. gun shops and gun shows is increasing the death toll in Mexico. If you agree that the United States needs to do more, please take a minute and add your name to the petition.
Adam looks at a new Senate report on U.S. weapons' illegal flow into violence-wracked Mexico, next week's citizen security conference of Central American governments and donor nations, and security and coca-growing developments in Bolivia.
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Amid skyrocketing rates of drug-related violence in Mexico, President Felipe Calderón said the following on Monday, while meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy:
If the Mexican Army, the Federal Police, and local police are working and risking their lives for this fight [against narcotrafficking], in the name of the hundreds of Mexican police who have died, it is fundamental that the United States assume, through deeds, its part of the responsibility for this fight."
Part of the U.S. responsibility would be helping to stop the flow of U.S. guns into Mexico. However, yesterday's Wall Street Journal presented some chilling statistics showing how great the problem of U.S. arms smuggling is and how little has been done.
The fighting is being waged with thousands of American-purchased or stolen weapons flowing south illegally each year, U.S. officials say.
The State Department recently estimated U.S.-originated guns were used in 95% of Mexico's drug-related killings. The number of such murders more than doubled to almost 6,000 last year, up from about 2,700 in 2007.
Meanwhile, U.S. authorities seized only 257 weapons heading south at border checkpoints in 2008 -- and a total of just 733 dating back to the start of 2005, according to data Homeland Security officials provided to The Wall Street Journal.
A project of the Latin America Working Group Education Fund in cooperation with the Center for International Policy and the Washington Office on Latin America
Project Staff: Adam Isacson (Senior Associate WOLA aisacson[at]wola.org) / Abigail Poe (Deputy Director CIP abigail[at]ciponline.org) / Lisa Haugaard (LAWGEF Executive Director lisah[at]lawg.org) / Joy Olson (WOLA Executive Director jolson[at]wola.org)