ENAAT participated in an International Delegation to investigate the flow of guns and light weapons to Mexico, and how this contributes to serious human rights violations impacting all of the Mexican people. The mission took place from 18 to 25 February 2023, and participants from ENAAT were Charlotte from Ohne Rüstung Leben (Germany), Francesco Vignarca from Rete Pace & Disarmo (Italy) and Laëtitia Sédou, ENAAT EU project manager.
Direct exports of small arms and light weapons (mainly guns, machine guns and ammunition) from EU countries to Mexico have reduced significantly in recent years. Yet they are still largely circulating in the country, falling regularly into the hands of ‘narcos’ (drug traffickers), and are used by both state and non-state actors in serious human rights violations, as described in a joint report “Deadly Trade: How European and Israeli Arms Exports are Accelerating Violence in Mexico” (available in English and in Spanish).
Moreover, many guns are sold without export authorizations as they fall under the category of non-military goods, for example for hunting, sport or individual protection.
But most of the European guns and other “light weapons” reach Mexico through the US market, either because they are re-exported through US retailers or trafficked, or because European companies set plants directly in the US and can then send weapons to Mexico without having to abide by EU norms. This is the case for main exporters like Italian Berretta, German Sig Sauer or Belgian FN Herstal. Yet those plants are still European through the holdings they belong to, and profits end-up in European private or public pockets.
European countries and companies alike do have a responsibility to decide to fuel or not the dramatic level of violence in Mexico which is impacting all levels of the Mexican society, but in particular local communities, journalists and human rights defenders. By continuing to send guns, machine guns and ammunitions to Mexico, whatever the channel is, both EU countries and companies are conscious accomplices of those crimes against the Mexican people.