By Javier Sicilia
Published in Proceso, February 26, 2017
The weapons business has been an immense scourge on Mexico since 2006, when then-President Felipe Calderón decided, contrary to all sense of reality and with perverse logic, to declare a war on drug trafficking. That atrocious business, which has cost us hundreds of thousands of murders and forced disappearances and has plunged Mexico into terror and suspicion, threatens to grow exponentially and become much more lethal and destructive with the ascent of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency and the cowed submission to his persecuting logic of Mexico’s president Enrique Peña Nieto and foreign policymakers.
In March 2015, still during Obama’s time, Sig Sauer, a U.S. weapons company with German origins that produces and exports guns from New Hampshire, signed an agreement with Mexico to sell its military (SEDENA, by its Spanish acronym) rifles, pistols and military weapons worth US$265 million. With that money, which is taken away from Mexico’s education, culture and productive activity, SEDENA could purchase approximately 400,000 weapons. This number is even more chilling when we recognize that SEDENA purchased $2.773 million worth of weapons from the same company between 2007 and 2014, according to information from SEDENA released through an information request. These were part of 700 billion pesos (US$53 billion) worth of military expenditures with which President Calderón concluded his presidency.
The large donors to Donald Trump’s campaign include gun companies that will take advantage of his victory to collect on their support and sell more weapons. Among them, Sig Sauer, which contributed at least $100,000 to gunvote.org (which campaigned for Trump), recently contracted an associate of U.S. vice-president Mike Pence to lobby for increased gun exports.
In these circumstances, and in light of the attempt in Mexico to approve a new internal security law – which by giving a legal framework for the military to be in the streets will legalize the state of siege we have experienced since 2006 – the multi-million-dollar commitment to Sig Sauer would appear to lead to an even more serious destruction of people’s lives. It will also increase the corruption of those with an economic interest in the weapons and drugs businesses. But unless our public leaders are truly idiotic and lacking any political sense, behind this investment and the contempt of Trump and Mexico’s political elites, the purchase of these weapons will have no other objective than increasing terror, controlling the dissident movements that seek to redefine the nation. Under the pretext of ending organized crime, it will support Trump’s policies through a ‘social cleansing’ both of the migrants he will deport to us and of the Central Americans who will be stuck in Mexico. There is no other way to interpret the brutal increase in the importation of weapons that Mexico has continued to carry out with the United States’ dealers in death since 2006 and this immoral and ignominious agreement that SEDENA made in 2015 with Sig Sauer.
Faced with this, the country’s moral fabric has the duty, not only to re-found the nation, but to demand that the Mexican government rescind the agreement, whose license is for four years.
By the end of 2015, the Mexican government had purchased weapons under the Sig Sauer agreement valued at only at ten million dollars. I don’t yet have the amount purchased in 2016. If we force the government to cancel the rest of the deal and demand that this money be invested in what the country really needs – education, culture, a strengthened domestic productive economy – we will not only have recovered some of the dignity taken from us, we also will have struck a heavy blow to Donald Trump’s war policies and finances.
The damages from the drug war that Calderón and Peña Nieto have waged on the country are immense and will not be repaired for a long time. Nevertheless, there are steps that can be taken immediately, such as rescinding a weapons agreement. That will not stop the killing and disappearing of people or the continued idiocy of investing in counterproductive businesses such as guns and war video games that serve death and the destruction of society’s moral framework. But the mere fact of doing it is by itself a lesson that, by defying the barbarism, traces a path toward the reduction of stupidity and horror.
Peace is not ending weapons production – something impossible – but it is, among other things, stopping part of its flow. In our current circumstances, the best moral effort of the country can only lessen incrementally the suffering we experience, and that can only be achieved with actions that are concrete, precise, and possible. To struggle to rescind a large weapons contract, stop the Interior Security Law, and seek to create a citizen government that redefines the nation, are three such steps that are required of us.
In addition, I believe that the San Andrés Accords must be respected. There must be an end to the war; freedom for José Manuel Mireles, his self-defense groups and all political prisoners; justice for the victims of violence; judgement of criminal officials and leaders; and opening of the graves in Jojutla.
Translated by John Lindsay-Poland