Message to the media from Mr. Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, President of the United Mexican States, delivered from the Manuel Ávila Camacho Room at the Official Residence.
Ladies and gentlemen of the media,
Yesterday, the people of Mexico witnessed one of the most horrific acts of barbarity in living memory.
A group of criminals without scruples, with no respect for the law, for life or for society, attacked a casino in the City of Monterrey.
In this attack, the death of over 50 people have been confirmed. These were Mexican men and women, each with given names and surnames: husbands, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters and brothers.
These lives were cut short absurdly, unjustly and violently by the ambition and viciousness of a handful of criminals.
Today is a day of mourning for Monterrey and the whole of Mexico.
What we saw yesterday represents a deeply painful event, an inhuman act that fills all of us Mexicans with sadness, indignation and anger. It is an unpardonable crime that the whole of the society should condemn and vigorously reject.
It is an act of terror and barbarity we condemn, because our country and our people do not deserve this suffering.
To all the victims’ family members, I want to express my deepest condolences for this terrible and irreparable loss. We cannot even envision the depth of sorrow being lived by their families today, nor can we find suitable words to offer a little solace at this time.
Precisely because the country shares their grief and because all of Mexico has become one with Nuevo León, I have decided to declare three days of National Mourning as of 25 August, the date on which these atrocious crimes were perpetrated.
What indeed I can assure you is that we will deploy all the legal, institutional and economic resources within our reach into investigating who are the individuals responsible for these acts and make them pay for their crime.
Your grief is the sorrow of all of Mexico, and we know that this crime in particular, cannot remain unpunished. No felony.
As a Mexican, as a father and as the President of the Republic, I am profoundly saddened, dismayed and incensed.
Like any murderous action, this attack lacks of cause and rationale. This action is more than that, it is the gravest attempt against the civil and innocent population that the country has seen in a long time.
Like any murderous action, this tragedy demands a resounding, unified response from all Mexicans.
I have issued instructions to Attorney General’s Office in order to, in coordination with the Nuevo León State Attorney General’s Office, investigate and bring all those responsible for these acts before the courts.
We know there are many issues that must be investigated and clarified. From the legal transactions that permitted the installation, and the juridical-administrative situation that prevails in operating an establishment such as this, to a review of proper enforcement of Civil Protection Standards, which could have compounded the scale of the tragedy and increased the number of victims. Of all this we shall inform the public opinion in a transparent and timely manner.
But let us not get confused or get it wrong. We are not talking essentially about an accident, but about a brutal and unspeakable homicide. We are talking about criminals who, deviously and with premeditation, treachery and superior advantage arrived at the place, threatened those present and torched the premises without further ado.
Murderous arsonists and real terrorists who not only should be punished to the full extent of the law, but also should receive unreserved condemnation from society, public authorities, political parties, social leaders and the media.
To the people of Monterrey, I want to say that we will not leave you on your own. In a few moments from now, I shall be leaving for that city in order to personally deal with the situation and meet up with the National Security Cabinet. I already had a meeting with them this morning and shall hold another with them there, in Monterrey, where the Cabinet has already gone in advance.
I shall also meet with Governor Rodrigo Medina and Mayor Fernando Larrazábal so that the Federal Government and the Nuevo León authorities can coordinate efforts in an investigation whose goal is the capture of the criminals who provoked this tragedy.
Let me make myself clear: We are not about to leave the people of Nuevo León, who are suffering from the irrational violence of criminals, on their own. We shall stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you in this fateful hour.
We have concentrated a large quantity of resources and elements of the Federal Forces and, from this moment on, at the meeting of the National Security Cabinet which has just ended, I have given instructions to further reinforce the presence of the Federal Forces in the Metropolitan Area of the City of Monterrey and in the Northeast of the country.
We shall not rest until we find the culprits and are able to return to the people of Nuevo León the tranquility that has been lost in recent years.
I appeal to the citizens of that state and of the Northeast of the country, to the citizens of the entire country, and ask you to report –albeit anonymously– those responsible for this crime as well as all criminals.
I have also given instructions so that the Federal Attorney General’s Office, in the exercise of its powers, offers a substantial financial reward to anyone providing trustworthy information leading to a speedy capture of these assassins.
Anyone who knows who the perpetrators or instigators of this barbarity are, should inform the police.
Obviously we are not up against common criminals. We are facing real terrorists who have gone beyond all the limits, not only of the law, but of plain common sense and respect for life.
Neither government nor society can afford to abandon the challenge and the obligation to defend Mexicans from such criminality. The worst that could happen to us is to renounce our duty and deliver our communities and our families to the whim and free will of the criminal gangs.
On the opposite. We have to confront them more forcefully, with more information and intelligence, with greater force and effectiveness. They are not, nor can they be, the owners of our streets, our cities and our future. We have to confront them and subdue them.
In such circumstances, all of us must act. I respectfully request the Congress of the Union to endow the state and Federal governments, and in particular the Federal Forces, with legal certainty in their actions, and with the indispensable legal powers to effectively face up to such a threat to national security. A solution to this matter must be found immediately.
I ask state and municipal governments to step up the pace in complying with the National Agreement for Security, Justice and Legality, and with the provisions set forth in the Public Security Law and the related regulatory framework.
There is no doubt that the headway made by criminals can also be explained –mightily– by the enormous corruption that prevails in security and justice institutions in different regions of the country and at different levels of government, which has penetrated power structures and in many cases has left the society defenseless, because those in charge of looking after citizens’ security are, not infrequently, at the service of the criminals instead.
We must cut out at once that corruption between us all. We must weed out and strengthen, as soon as possible, our police forces and prosecutors’ agencies.
I also respectfully ask the Judicial Branch, in both Federal and state spheres, to make an effort to review its own structures and their members.
I have no doubts regarding the honesty of most of our judges and magistrates. But it is also true that the rampant impunity found in the country is also due to the fact that, for whatever reason, criminals do not receive the punishments they deserve when judgment is handed down against them. This, it is said, is due to a lack of skill among the public prosecution services. That is something we must investigate and, of course, remedy.
But it is also possible that the corrupting power of the criminal elements has been able to penetrate the structures of the judiciary, which is not immune to such dangers, and we must examine that possibility. At the same time, I ask the judicial system to review its own criteria, in order to find a way to close the gap, the ever-widening gap between the existence of a criminal act and the legal criteria that allow for it to be punished.
The distance between the real truth and what is known as the legal truth. In the final analysis, the real truth, the truth that is of concern to the public, is that these criminals are walking the streets, unpunished, and that we are all under an obligation to overturn that impunity.
Finally, I specifically ask the members of the judiciary to review the judicial rulings that they have issued or that allow many establishments of this kind to function, along with the dens of vice where criminals operate in various parts of the country.
There is another matter that I cannot ignore.
Among the many factors associated with these criminal acts are the exorbitant economic earnings that their illicit activities generate. As a result, they have a level of firepower and a capacity for destruction that not only challenges the authorities but also terrifies and subjugates the population.
The criminals’ ambitions in this highly profitable market lead them into a murderous, bestial struggle between criminal gangs, with such brutal and inhumane acts, as is probably the case, as the one we witnessed yesterday.
Of these economic earnings, the greatest profits are due to one factor: the trafficking and sale of drugs to the United States. A part of the tragedy we Mexicans face arises from the fact that we are located alongside the biggest narcotics consumer in the world and, at the same time, the biggest weapons dealer in the world, which pays criminals billions and billions of dollars each year to supply it with drugs.
Those tens of billions of dollars end up arming and organizing the criminals, placing them at their service and in conflict with the public.
For that reason it is also my duty to call upon the people, the Congress, and the Government of the United States. I ask them to reflect on the tragedy that we are experiencing in Mexico and in many Latin American countries, which is largely a consequence of the insatiable consumption of narcotics in which millions and millions of U.S. citizens participate.
The economic clout and firepower of the criminal organizations that operate in Mexico and in Latin America are linked to this endless demand for drugs within the United States.
Mexico can no longer be the entryway to that market, and neither can it continue to pay for the consequences it generates, which translate not only into billions of illicit dollars from the black market but also into thousands of deaths, caused by the violent acts of the criminal gangs involved in that business.
Those levels of drug use must be reduced drastically, and if that is not possible, the United States must at the very least assist in preventing the dollars that flow into Mexico from creating this kind of unbearable violence that the Mexican people do not want.
We need and we are grateful for the cooperation we have received in the areas of information and intelligence, which has enabled us to detain scores of organized crime kingpins and to strike blows against their criminal structures.
But it is also important that the people, Congress, and Government of the United States find a way to strip the criminals of the exorbitant profits they earn from the illicit drugs market.
If they are determined to use drugs and resigned to it, let them seek out market alternatives that cancel the criminals’ stratospheric earnings, or let them establish clear access points away from their border with Mexico. But this situation cannot continue.
At the same time, I beg them to put an end, once and for all, to the criminal sale of high-powered weapons and assault rifles to criminals operating in Mexico, which obeys nothing but the profit motive. That can be resolved, as they did in the recent past. Put an end to the indiscriminate and uncontrolled sale of assault weapons.
There is no reason for the hundreds of thousands of weapons sold to criminals to be pointing at the Mexican people and their authorities. We are neighbors; we are allies; we are friends; but in addition, you are responsible. That is my message.
I know that a lot of people will be wondering what is going to happen now and what are we going to do. What comes next?
On the part of the Federal Government, the response is clear: What comes next is perseverance and a redoubling of efforts until peace and justice are attained, because we are not going to surrender. On the contrary: we will forge ahead, because we want a Mexico that is at peace, and a Mexico with the freedoms that the criminals have threatened.
The next step is legal action, the legitimate action of the Mexican State to punish these murderers and their accomplices. For that very reason, because of the innocent victims, and because of the cowardice of the murderers, we must and will continue to act with full resolve against the organized crime gangs that are ravaging Monterrey and many other cities in Mexico.
The criminals must understand that the more they attack innocent people, the more forceful our actions against them will be. They must leave society alone.
The next step is also to work responsibly and in solidarity with Monterrey, with Nuevo León, with the entire country, to free Mexico from criminal savagery, to dismantle the gang that perpetrated this attack and all other criminal organizations, regardless of how they style themselves, that seek to intimidate and subjugate our people.
Ladies and gentlemen:
We all understand that the enemies of Mexico are the criminals. Yesterday they showed us how far they can go in their stupid and irrational violence.
Today, we, the upstanding citizens of Mexico, must show how far we can go to defend Mexico and to defend our people. We have to show that we are a nation of solidarity, able to come together at the darkest hours, and that we know how to respond to the fear and anxiety they seek to spread with firmness, with determination, and, at the same time, with serenity.
We have to show that we are people who can put their differences to one side to confront and overcome our enemies, regardless of who they may be and of where they may come from. We have to show that we are also capable of turning indignation into strength to defend our values: honesty, legality, solidarity, respect for others, hope for the future, love for our families, and love for Mexico.
The time has come for us to join together: political parties, the federal, state, and municipal governments, Congress, the judiciary, civil society organizations, the media, and all the people of Mexico who know that our country is much stronger than a handful of criminals who seek to impose their ambitions through fear.
The time has also come for us to assume, without bickering, without jostling for position, and without hesitation, our responsibility in ensuring that criminals can no longer harm our country.
The forces of law and order, particularly at the federal level, are defending the citizenry from those criminals. Let us do our job; put aside political bickering and those interests that seek to hinder the actions of the federal authorities in exchange for the possibility of journalistic or political gain.
The time has also come to pursue urgently needed transformations, to pass the amendments and laws that will strengthen the security of the Mexican people at its foundation.
The time has also come to embark in full, with all its risks and costs, on the task of cleaning up our police forces, so that their bad officers, those who collude with criminals, those who allow them to perpetrate these outrages, can no longer harm upstanding Mexican citizens.
The time has also come – at home, at school, at work, with our families, with our children, with our young people – to spread the values that will instill a culture of legality, of honesty, of self-respect, of respect for life, of respect for others.
Today, each and every citizen of Mexico has a responsibility toward the nation. Today, nobody can stand on the sidelines in this effort, which is for Mexico, for its security, for justice, for legality, for the Mexico to which we aspire.
Today, Mexico stands wounded and sorrowful, and we must transform those wounds and sorrow into resolution and courage to tackle the criminals as a single, united people.
Let us turn our pain into unity to build a better Mexico.
With unity we have overcome difficult, bitter moments, and with unity we shall overcome this tragedy.
Thank you very much.