It may be the longest of shots possible, but can it be that in joining Mexico’s US$10 billion lawsuit against seven US gun manufacturers, Trinidad and Tobago, other Caricom and Latin America countries can achieve what the US Congress has failed at?
That being to free the Republicans in the Congress from the grip of the gun manufacturers’ lobby, i.e., to have them leave behind the big bucks in campaign support they receive in favour of saving American lives and reputation abroad. For years, the Democrats and significant individuals and organisations have sought unsuccessfully to get the support of congressional Republicans to make the simplest of legislative changes to prevent even 18-year-olds from easily purchasing assault rifles.
As explained to this newspaper by the Deputy Legal Adviser at the Secretariat of Foreign Relations of Mexico, Miguel Reyes, his and other countries are seeking compensation from the gun manufacturers for the costs involved in attempting to prevent gun violence and to combat the illicit traffic in guns to their countries.
The Mexican lawsuit, joined by other nations, is an attempt to weaken the gun manufacturers by hitting them in the most susceptible parts of their organisations, their accounts. And to do so from a track mounted from the outside; the internal route choked by billions in campaign finance dollars.
At the core of the Mexican inspired lawsuit, apart from doing some damage to the “pocketbooks” of the manufacturers, can be hope to engage the fight against other critical parts of American society. For instance, can a combined external force of countries committed to preventing the deadly weaponry from being transported to their countries reach the point of damaging the US external trade, political and diplomatic relations with friendly partners?
It’s logical to attack from offshore when the onshore attempts have had little traction amongst Republicans, whose congressional leaders are hooked on the campaign dollars they receive from the gun manufacturers.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s statement at the Caricom Crime Symposium, pledging to move to ban assault weapons into T&T, got the cynical reaction of it being irrelevant, as there is no influx of such weapons into T&T.
But maybe, as the current Prime Minister and several before him like to say, when their statements and actions make little sense on the face of them, they have a little more information than the average citizen on the background to decisions taken and statements made.
We, therefore, need to place the PM’s statement and the buy-in from other Caricom leaders in the context that there is more in the proverbial “mortar than the pestle.” Effectively, there is more than seems obvious on the surface to ordinary Caricom citizens of a rationale for their leaders to join the Mexicans.
It will most certainly take much more than a few Latin American and Caribbean countries and multiple times over US$10 billion to defeat the multi-trillion-dollar weapons industry in the US. The plan of the initiators must, therefore, reside with a hoped-for success in this lawsuit being followed by an avalanche of similar cases with growing concerns for the US.