The giants of the arms industry finally break their silence after being accused by Mexico of arms trafficking. The manufacturers have asked this Monday that the lawsuit be dismissed under two main arguments: that the Mexican State does not have the legal power to bring them to trial and that it has not proven that they are responsible for the wave of violence that is hitting the country. In some cases, it is alleged that the defendant companies enjoy immunity under current US law. The answer is within what the Mexican litigants already expected, who will have until January 22 of next year to respond formally.
Mexico sued 11 US companies last September for negligent business practices and lack of corporate responsibility. From the Mexican perspective, companies have enriched themselves at the expense of arming drug cartels and other criminal groups, deliberately being ignorant and negligent in the controls of who they are sold to and where their products end up. The complaint has become a priority issue for the Government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marcelo Ebrard, has brought the Mexican slogans to the platform of the United Nations Security Council this Monday.
The debate led by the Mexican delegation to the UN coincided with a key day in the litigation: this Monday the deadline for companies to respond to the civil lawsuit, a 130-page document, expired. Sturm, Ruger & Company questioned in a memorandum that Mexico seeks to hold the trial in Massachusetts. “The Mexican government is not a citizen of Massachusetts,” the letter reads, where it is argued that it has not been directly established that the firm is responsible for the armed violence. “It is fair to conclude that the Mexican government simply went out to find a forum and concluded that Massachusetts could be a favorable forum for their demands,” it adds.
Barrett, maker of one of the rifles preferred by criminal groups, according to Mexican authorities, ignores the accusations and says that it is, in fact, Mexico’s responsibility to combat illegal trafficking. “All the accusations arise from the acts of criminals who buy weapons illegally, smuggle them across the border between Mexico and the United States, illegally deliver them to other criminals who are part of drug trafficking cartels and then abuse them. weapons criminally in Mexico, ”reads another document presented to the court.
The arguments are repeated in each defense brief: they question whether Massachusetts is a jurisdiction that can admit the claim and that there is a direct relationship between the arms manufacturers and the criminal groups. “Concern about illegal firearms trafficking to Mexico is shared at the national level,” argues, for example, Glock. “However, it is not alleged that any Massachusetts citizen was harmed by the conduct claimed in the complaint,” it adds.
Colt, another well-known manufacturer, adds that the lawsuit must be dismissed under the Protection of the Legal Trade in Arms Act (PLCAA), a statute promoted by the manufacturers themselves during the George W. Bush Administration that shields them from any litigation initiated by third parties. on American soil. “PLCAA immunity is subject to few exceptions,” says the company. The Mexican team argues that these regulations do not have an extraterritorial scope and as the damages occurred in Mexico, the companies do not enjoy legal immunity.
The 11 defendants issued a joint response and some of them, a separate one. “Firearms companies do not have a legal duty to protect the Mexican government from Mexican criminals who abuse those weapons in Mexico,” reads the joint memorandum, which is more than 40 pages long.
Mexican officials told EL PAÍS that a “smear campaign” was planned, seeking to portray the country’s authorities as incompetent and corrupt. “Legal fencing begins,” said Alejandro Celorio, the legal consultant for the Mexican Foreign Ministry, in charge of the case. “Today the litigation is neither won nor lost,” insisted Celorio through social networks.
After Mexico responds, the judge must decide whether to analyze the proposal to dismiss the case or whether to proceed with the litigation. Both parties have anticipated a long process. The repair figure that had been handled months ago was in the billions of dollars, but to reach a trial and a verdict it may take months or even years. Beyond the legal, the media and diplomatic battle is already writing its first chapters.
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