ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico ~ When Araceli Rodriguez saw the R-15 that was for sale for 15,000 pesos [about $1,150] and a bag of 25 bullets at $12, she immediately thought of her son, Luis Angel, missing since 2008, and thought that probably he had been killed by a gun such as those they sell like hamburgers in the United States.
“I have a dry mouth seeing so many weapons, to see children here, as if it were nothing. I do not want to be here. Let’s go!” pleaded the mother of the former Federal Police agent who disappeared in Michoacan.
Javier Sicilia said, “It is a horror; I´ve never entered such a place, it is a spit in the eye of the founding fathers of this country. The second amendment of the Constitution meant gun ownership was for protection, not for extermination.”
Inside the fair, about 500 tables with the same number of merchants displayed their goods to men, women and entire families who can have any of these pistols, machine guns, knives, bazookas, bullets, etc. if they are 19 years old and have an ID. In New Mexico there are 708 gun stores and many of them have sold high powered rifles that end up in the hands of organized crime in Mexico.
For half an hour, a group of the Caravan for Peace led by Javier Sicilia walked through the arms fair in this city with the intention of giving a message of peace. But they could not. They froze, they were terrified.
In front of their eyes spread a metal horizon of the dark colors of black and gray with which the weapons are painted. The spectacle–all kinds of pistols, hunting rifles and assault rifles, knives, bullets, cartridges, exploding bullets that have more impact, scopes, comfortable gun butts, ergonomic ones and other modern tools to make them more effective–froze the Caravan.
Photographers and cameramen were unable to bring their professional cameras into the show because of security measures [sic]. They had to use their cell phones to take pictures of the arms market that annually puts on this show. It was impossible not to take note of the rows of American machine guns and those from Eastern Europe installed at tables that buyers matter-of-factly picked up, putting their eye to the sights and their finger on the trigger..
Javier Sicilia spoke a few minutes with one of the traders. He toured the stalls of one of the aisles and then stopped at the booth of the National Rifle Association. He couldn’t believe the variety of weapons and voiced the phrase he has repeated in recent days: “They sell them like candy.”
Members of some state peace organizations accompanied the caravan and reporters to the show of arms. None had entered one of them before, and they were equally shocked.
After the visit, Sicilia said: “They have no idea of what happens in Mexico. They have their own market logic; they have their self-defense argument, and do not account for the creation of the wars that have been fought in other countries, that there is the stupid war in Mexico between a corrupt government and the cartels.”
But Araceli Rodriguez was the most impacted. “I wanted to cry. I see children in the midst of arms, the babies that they bring here, the children who were walking around. All you need is a driver´s license to own guns, to kill anyone. I feel helpless because I do not know if one of these guns killed my son.”
The mother of one of the missing federal police could not take any more. “This is outrageous!, Where are they bringing these children? How many weapons do they sell that reach the hands of criminals? I have a dry mouth. This is the strongest experience I’ve had since the death of my son. I want to tell President Obama to no longer allow this. Now let’s go,” she pleaded and left the arms market.
Interestingly, in one of the 500 booths at the gun show, the ultra-conservative Tea-Party–composed of racist, white conservatives who claim to be the only ones that are maintaining American independence–distributed propaganda in defense of weapons. They were handing out pamphlets and recruiting supporters for the presidential elections in November.
In the states of New Mexico, Arizona and Texas there are 8,289 gun shops and 1,389 thousand authorized ones are located in 14 cities bordering Mexico. A good number of them have sold weapons which were then seized from organized crime cartels in Mexico. (Spanish original / English translated original)