Statement by Global Exchange Executive Council

Washington, DC.- On September 14, four U.S. Senators asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken to suspend weapons exports to the Mexican Navy and police until export controls prevent the arming of human rights abusers, and because of the lack of transparency about end users of U.S.-exported weapons.

“This action is an important step toward making visible the serious legal, coordination and registration gaps in the exporting and licensing process to police and military units in Mexico,” said John Lindsay- Poland, project coordinator of Global Exchange’s Stop US Arms to Mexico project. “These gaps in weapons export controls put Mexican society at serious risk and reduce the chances of achieving peace there.”

The disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa, Guerrero in 2014, the murder of 16 migrants in Camargo, Tamaulipas in 2021, forced disappearances carried out by Mexican naval troops, and other atrocities documented by Mexico’s National Commission for Human Rights have proven that the units responsible for these tragedies continue to receive firearms, despite their involvement in these events.

The appeal by Democratic Senators Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Dick Durbin of Illinois, follows a letter sent to the State Department in March, after the Camargo massacre, where 19 people, mostly indigenous immigrants from Guatemala, were killed and burned by elements of the Tamaulipas Special Operations Groups (GOPES), a state police unit that has received training and weapons from the United States.

Global Exchange joins the Senators’ demand to halt firearms exports to Mexico until firearms transactions are subject to the highest standards of controls.

Copy of the letter here.