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News (Media Awareness Project) - Mexico: U.S. Shares In Blame, Calderon Says
Title:Mexico: U.S. Shares In Blame, Calderon Says
Published On:2011-08-27
Source:Tampa Tribune (FL)
Fetched On:2011-08-29 06:01:15

Mexican President Cites Lax Gun Laws, Demand For Drugs For Fueling
Cartels' Violence

MEXICO CITY -His voice cracking with emotion, President Felipe
Calderon said Friday that the United States bore some blame for 'an
act of terror' by gangsters who doused a casino with gasoline and set
a blaze that killed at least 52 people.

The attack Thursday in Monterrey, an industrial city of 4 million
barely a two-hour drive from Texas, stunned Mexicans and seemed
likely to mark a watershed in the country's intensifying war against
criminal syndicates.

In a 20-minute televised address to the nation, Calderon gave an
unusually blunt assessment of the causes of Mexico's surging violence
before flying to Monterrey to place a wreath at the burned-out hulk
of the Casino Royale.

He referred repeatedly to the attack as a terrorist act, elevating
the conflict to a new level, at least linguistically, and casting it
in terms of a broader struggle for control of Mexico. He said rampant
corruption within his nation's judiciary and law enforcement bore some blame.

In unprecedented, direct criticism of the United States, Calderon
said lax U.S. gun laws and high demand for drugs stoked his nation's
violence. He appealed to U.S. citizens 'to reflect on the tragedy
that we are living through in Mexico.' 'We are neighbors, allies and
friends. But you, too, are responsible. This is my message,' Calderon said.

He called on the United States to 'once and for all stop the criminal
sale of high-powered weapons and assault rifles to criminals that
operate in Mexico.' Calderon declared three days of national mourning.

The motive of Thursday's attack wasn't clear, but authorities
indicated it might have been part of an extortion campaign against
one of many casinos that operate in Mexico on the margins of the law.

'The media impact that this has is greater, because we're talking
about an attack on a civilian population of a certain income,' said
Jorge Chabat, an expert in safety and drug trafficking at the Center
for Research and Teaching in Economics. 'Because who was there was
from the middle class, the upper middle class of an important city in
Mexico.' A surveillance tape showed eight or nine men arriving in
four cars at the casino and setting fire to the building within
minutes. The gunmen had ordered people to leave before setting the
fire, but many fled further inside, locking themselves in restrooms.
Officials said they likely died quickly, the majority from smoke inhalation.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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