MEXICO CITY – An exhibit of photographs and art at a Mexico City museum seeks to draw attention to the impact of arms smuggled into Mexico from the United States and gather signatures for a campaign demanding that Washington put an end to arms trafficking.
“Adios a las armas. Contrabando en las fronteras” (Goodbye Firearms. Contraband at the Borders), which opened on Nov. 30 at Mexico City’s Museum of Memory and Tolerance, has been seen by about 30,000 visitors, museum spokesman Enrique Collantes said.
The photographs, illustrations and videos in the exhibit document gun-related violence and culture, with one photograph showing children in the border city of Tijuana playing with an assault rifle and a mural spelling out “USA” with pistols.
A letter at the end of the exhibit is addressed to U.S. President Barack Obama and urges him to expand the regulation of the legal arms business since many of its products end up feeding the illegal gun trade.
Visitors are asked to sign an online petition on the Web site of the non-governmental Alianza Civica, which organized the exhibit and the campaign to end arms trafficking.
More than 7,000 people have signed the petition using the computer provided in the exhibit hall, Collantes said.
After the exhibit closes in Mexico City on Sunday, it will tour different states in Mexico and will later be presented to the U.S. Congress in Washington, Collantes said.
The exhibit is being taken to Washington in an effort to find “a binational solution to a binational problem,” Alianza Civica’s Angel Soriano said.
The exhibit and the campaign to end arms trafficking are being supported by U.S.-based NGOs Global Exchange and the Washington Office on Latin America, or WOLA.
The campaign includes conferences and mini-exhibits at schools and universities, as well as exposing people on the streets to the issue and gathering signatures, Soriano said.
The security forces have seized 136,000 firearms, 11,000 grenades and 13 million rounds of ammunition during the first five years of President Felipe Calderon’s war on Mexico’s drug cartels, the Mexican government said.
About 90 percent of the firearms seized by Mexican authorities and traced back to their source came from the United States, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF, said in a 2009 report.