Wednesday, August 22, 2012
AZMEX SPECIAL 21-8-12
AZMEX SPECIAL 21 AUG 2012
Note: some curious stuff.
El Paso City Council votes on gun sale resolution during peace caravan visit
By Alejandro Martínez-Cabrera / EL PASO TIMES
Posted: 08/21/2012 07:18:12 PM MDT
Prompted by victims of violence in Mexico, the City Council on Tuesday approved - not without debate - a resolution calling for the endorsement of a voluntary code of conduct for firearm sales.
The resolution, which also called for a discussion on the country's drug policies and prioritizing human rights in U.S.-Mexico collaborations, was a gesture of solidarity with the Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity. The group of about 110 people is traveling through the U.S. to create awareness about the U.S.'s link to drug violence in Mexico among policy makers and the general public.
The leader of the caravan is Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, whose son Juan Francisco, 24, was killed by gunmen last year. On Wednesday, Sicilia and the group addressed city council before demonstrating at the El Paso offices of federal agencies and visiting the University of Texas at El Paso.
Sicilia told council members about the pain and suffering caused by Mexican president Felipe Calderón's term-long push against criminal organizations in the country, which has led to the death and disappearance of tens of thousands.
Sicilia underscored the role of weapons flowing from the U.S. in spurring
violence in Mexico. U.S. aid policies had contributed to militarize the country, he said, and U.S. authorities have been unable to keep criminal organizations from purchasing high-caliber weapons here.
"It only benefits the lords of death, the lords of pain, the lords of war and the lords of violence," he said. "We believe that the United States has a responsibility that hasn't been assumed by the government and the people of this country."
Victims also spoke to reporters of the losses they've endured.
Juan Carlos Trujillo, from the southwestern state of Michoacán, said two of his brothers went missing while traveling through a town where a drug lord was sweeping for unfamiliar people. Two other brothers disappeared two years later on an incident the family can't tell if it was related.
To disappear is a worse fate than dying, Trujillo said, because the uncertainty is devastating.
"I'm talking to you and I don't know if my brother is eating or not, if he's alive or not," Trujillo said. "As brothers, we made a pact that when we feel we're in danger we either throw ourselves off a cliff or crash against (our attackers) so our mother will know where we ended."
Sicilia's address to the city council was followed by the vote on the resolution, which was approved by the majority of council members, with the exception of city Rep. Cortney Niland who abstained from voting.
The document was only approved after some modifications to the language of the resolution.
Council member Michiel Noe said he sympathized with the caravan but criticized one point in the proposed code of conduct for fire arm sales, which called retailers to refuse sales when background checks don't return within three days.
Noe said people cannot be denied the purchase of a weapon "without a reason or without someone accusing them."
Noe also said the original resolution's call to "spur discussion about current drug policy and alternatives to it" indirectly referred to a discussion on the legalization of drugs, which he refused to engage in.
Noe asked that the resolution's language emphasize the code of conduct is voluntary and omit the part alluding to the discussion of drug policy alternatives.
Two El Paso residents who spoke before the city council said they were against the resolution. One of the critics, Salvador Gomez, said he supported the caravan but thought its efforts should be focused in Mexico.
"I'm tired of hearing people come and criticize my country," he said. "The place to make an impact is on Juárez, not on this side of the border." Caravan members responded by standing up and giving their back to the speakers.
After their appearance in city council, the caravan held a demonstration outside the offices of federal agencies in the city and later visited UTEP, where Sicilia spoke about the impact of violence in fueling immigration into the U.S. In the evening, the caravan led a march from San Jacinto Plaza toward the immigrant support center Annunciation House, where they held a vigil for the victims of violence.
Sicilia called for people in the U.S. to be compassionate toward Mexican victims displaced by violence, the legalization of drugs and demand U.S. aid money for Mexico be used to restore the country's social fabric, cleanse corrupt institutions and limit the southbound traffic of weapons.
Sicilia's caravan will leave El Paso on Wednesday and will stop in Laredo, Austin, San Antonio, Atlanta, Chicago and New York before reaching Washington D.C.
The group's month-long trip will take them through 28 cities. It began San Diego on Aug, 12 and passed through Los Angeles, Phoenix and Las Cruces, among other cities, before making it to El Paso.
Alejandro Martínez-Cabrera can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 546-6129. Follow him on Twitter @AlejandroEPT.