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News (Media Awareness Project) - Mexico: U.S. Bears Some Blame For Casino Attack
Title:Mexico: U.S. Bears Some Blame For Casino Attack
Published On:2011-08-27
Source:St. Petersburg Times (FL)
Fetched On:2011-08-29 06:01:21

MEXICO CITY - His voice cracking with emotion, President Felipe
Calderon said Friday that the United States bears some blame for 'an
act of terror' by gangsters who doused a casino with gasoline and set
a fire 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 also
must bear some blame.

But in unprecedented, direct criticism of the United States, Calderon
said lax U.S. gun laws and high demand for drugs have 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,' 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.

In a statement, President Barack Obama condemned 'the barbaric and
reprehensible attack' and lauded Mexico's 'brave fight to disrupt
transnational criminal organizations that threaten both Mexico and
the United States.' The motive for Thursday's attack wasn't clear,
but authorities indicated that the attack might have been part of an
extortion campaign against one of many casinos that operate in
Mexico. The Casino Royale was the third betting establishment to be
targeted this month in northern Mexico.

Calderon's blast at the United States underscored the feeling here
that there's little appreciation north of the border for the role
Americans have played in strengthening the cartels that are
responsible for the grisly violence that has claimed as many as
40,000 lives in the past five years. With weapons bought in the
United States, the gangs, which have roots in drug smuggling but have
branched out into a variety of criminal enterprises, are better armed
than the police. While Calderon's government has captured dozens of
mid- and upperlevel gangsters, beheadings, public executions and
kidnappings are epidemic.

Of the 52 who died Thursday, 35 were women - mostly in their 40s, 50s
and 60s - who were passing time in the casino on a weekday afternoon,
officials said. Ten people were injured.

The Attorney General's Office offered a $2.5 million reward for
information leading to the conviction of the attackers.
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