Mexicans swop guns for toys

2012-12-31 16:02
(Picture: <a href="">Shutterstock</a>)

(Picture: Shutterstock) (Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Mexico City - Fed up with rampant crime, a Mexico City district is pressing locals to swop personal firearms for bikes, tablet computers and even cash, in a desperate bid to get guns off the streets.

Francisco Aro proudly showed off his 32-caliber Smith & Wesson, a collector's item.

"It belonged to my great granddad. He was in the revolution," explained Aro, who - sentimental value aside - opted for the swop set up by Mexico City authorities trying to disarm dangerous Iztapalapa.

"Now, at least I'll get some exercise," smiled the 33-year-old as he patiently waited his turn to make a deal.

There were about 60 people, all with pistols in hand, in the line snaking out of a church.

When they reached the front of the line, a small team of police and military staff collected their weapons anonymously.

And the swappers got their choice of rewards, from shiny new bikes to electronics and, always popular, money.

The Mexico City programme, called "Voluntary Arms Trade-in: It's For Your Family," just kicked off on 24 December for a week of work.

"For every day of the programme, we are spending 300 000 pesos," said a city government source, who spoke on condition they not be named.

So what about the real criminals?

Though officials so far have collected more than 200 weapons, improving safety in the midst of an organieed crime nightmare that has rocked the nation is the tip of the iceberg.

And the authorities still have an uphill battle ahead of them.

President Enrique Pena Nieto, who took office 1 December, has vowed to improve public safety in the face of a relentless drug war that has killed more than 60 000 people in the last six years alone. Drug cartels are ruthlessly jockeying to control lucrative trafficking routes.

So swaps from these folks aren't necessarily going to solve the country's biggest problems.

"The bad guys normally have several weapons. So they might just swap one that doesn't work, or one they don't like, and keep the rest," said Augusto Martinez.

 At 79 years young, he traded in a Colt 80 revolver for a bike and some cash.

Skeptics also include the army personnel sent out to collect the swapped guns.

"Look at the shape this stuff is in. Most of these guns are out of order, or very old," one commander said privately.

"Most of the people who bring them in are middle-aged family men who inherited these from their grandparents."

Gun smuggling

Though it is illegal to carry weapons in Mexico - unlike in the US - the country has to battle with a steady influx of illegal weapons from its northern neighbour. The weapons make their way into the hands of drug traffickers and organised crime.

The federal government says, however, that it has seized more than 107 000 weapons just from 2006-2012 – 90% of which were trafficked in from the US.

Still, lawmaker Jesus Valencia has had enough of crime in Iztapalapa - the second most violent part of the federal capital. He said it was worth a try to get some guns off the streets, so that fewer lives would be lost to stray bullets.

In November, a 10-year-old boy lost his life in just such a tragedy, as did a woman on 13 December.

Authorities have also reached out to kids. As part of the programme, they can swop violent toys for new ones that are not.

Suriel Guadalupe, a 4-year-old dressed up as Spider Man, lined up and took two plastic pistols out for a trade.

"I don't want them any more," he said, swopping them for a basketball.

Read more on:    enrique pena nieto  |  us  |  mexico

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


For the love of Corgis!

WATCH: 35 Corgi's to make your day! If they’re good enough for the Queen of England they’re good enough for us.



Can we communicate with our pets?
8 great natural remedies for your pet
Buying a puppy? Don’t get scammed!
WATCH: These funny animal videos will make you LOL!
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.