Arnie Alpert, the longtime co-director of the American Friends Service Committee’s (AFSC) New Hampshire Program, will spend two weeks in Mexico with a 16-member AFSC delegation looking into the effects of U.S. policy, including arms sales, on human rights in Mexico.
“U.S. arms sales to the Mexican police and military have grown enormously, to $3.5 billion since the end of 2012,” Alpert said. “The bulk of the dollar value of these sales is in helicopters used by police, Army, Navy and Air Force, as well as armored vehicles. These weapons are contributing to high levels of official violence that some have said constitute crimes against humanity.”
Alpert pointed to a recent study by Open Society Justice Initiative which concluded that Mexican government agents “have committed murder, torture, and disappearance that have been widespread, systematic, and part of a policy to attack civilian populations.” The report, Undeniable Atrocities: Confronting Crimes against Humanity in Mexico, also accuses successive governments of almost completely failing to ensure accountability for atrocity crimes, due primarily to political obstruction.
Others have reached similar conclusions. “Little has been done to investigate the thousands of accusations of torture, forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings that have mounted since former President Felipe Calderón began his nation’s drug war a decade ago,” the NY Times reported last month.
Nearly 13,000 guns have been lost or stolen from Mexico’s public security agencies over the last ten years, according to another recent report. Many of them, no doubt, originated in the United States, Alpert said.
“We are troubled that our tax dollars are being used to finance Mexican violence in which civilians are too often the victims,” Alpert said. “Corporations like Sikorsky, now a division of Lockheed Martin, and AM General are profiting off of Mexico’s misery,” he added.
The AFSC delegation, from June 12 to 26, will include meetings with Mexican researchers who are studying the impact of U.S.-supplied weapons. The group will also visit the southern border, where U.S. policy has encouraged security measures that may deny human rights protections to people fleeing persecution in Central America.
“Instead of fulfilling U.S. obligations to offer due process and protection to migrants fleeing violence, Mexico’s US-backed Southern Border Program has criminalized and locked up migrant families, while outsourcing to Mexico massive and callous deportations,” Alpert commented.
This will be Alpert’s sixth study tour to Mexico. He will leave for Mexico on June 12 and return on June 26. When he returns to expects to share what the group learns through articles and talks, including one at World Fellowship in Albany NH on July 2.
The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization supported by people of many faiths who support peace, social justice, and nonviolent change. Alpert has been at the organization’s Concord office since 1981.