Mexican art show focuses on weapons, effects

Published April 6, 2012 1:18PM (EDT)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — An art and photo show focusing on the trade in firearms and their deadly effects in Mexico may soon be going to the United States, the same place where many of the weapons come from.

The show, "A Farewell to Arms. Contraband on the Border," uses photos and artwork to illustrate how the illegal weapons trade has affected Mexico, where more than 47,000 people have died in drug-related violence since late 2006.

The non-governmental groups Global Exchange and the Washington Office on Latin America plan to take the exhibit to the U.S. capital later this year. It closes in Mexico City on April 15.

Currently at the capital's Tolerance Museum, the show's juxtaposition of images is disquieting, not just because of the violence but because weapons seem to have become ubiquitous.

In one photo, children in the border city of Tijuana are seen playing with a rifle at an Army Day exhibition, handling it almost like a stick used to break a pinata.

In another piece, the letters "USA" are spelled out with pistols.

The Mexican government says that in the first five years of the offensive against drug cartels, it seized 136,000 weapons, 11,000 grenades and 13 million rounds of ammunition.

In 2009, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said about 90 percent of the weapons that Mexican authorities recovered and submitted for tracing originated in the United States.

The ATF says many guns used by Mexican drug cartels are bought in the United States, with Arizona and Texas being major sources, but the agency no longer releases estimates of how many.

Gun rights supporters in the U.S. said the weapons turned over by Mexico for tracing in the 2009 report were not selected randomly and argued that raised questions about the accuracy of the percentage reported by the ATF.

By Salon Staff

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