MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s government on Monday said it considers the mass murder of 22 people in El Paso, including eight Mexican citizens, an “act of terrorism” against Mexicans and hopes it will lead to changes in U.S. gun laws.
Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard met Monday afternoon with local authorities in El Paso and said Mexico will participate in the investigations and trial there, and take legal action against those who sold the gun to the shooter.
“An investigation will be opened for terrorism, because that’s what it was,” Ebrard said at a press conference. “And the extradition request is not off the table.”
Ebrard also met with families of the victims and the injured and promised to speed up the repatriation process for the bodies of the eight Mexican victims.
“We agree that it appears racism and white supremacy are serious problems in the United States,” Ebrard said.
Meanwhile, Two Latin American governments with U.S. travel advisories warned of the dangers of visiting the United States.
Uruguay’s Foreign Ministry urged citizens who travel to the U.S. to take “extreme precautions.”
The ministry said U.S. authorities can’t prevent the shootings because of “indiscriminate possession of firearms” and advised Uruguayans to avoid large public events including shopping centers, art and food festivals, and religious gatherings.
Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry also issued a statement suggesting that its citizens “postpone travel” to the United States in light of “violence and indiscriminate hate crimes.”
The United States has warned its citizens against travel to Venezuela.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador previously said that Mexico will respect the debate that will unfold in the United States after the Saturday attack that killed 22 people and wounded dozens more, but he believes the discussion could lead to change north of the border.
“There could be a change to their laws because it is stunning what is happening, unfortunate and very powerful,” López Obrador said. “I don’t rule out that they could change their constitution and laws. These are new times; you have to always be adjusting the legal framework to the new reality.”
Many in Mexico were reeling from revelations that the shooting appeared to have been aimed at Latinos, and Mexicans in particular.
Just minutes before the rampage, U.S. investigators believe the shooter posted a rambling online manifesto that echoed previous comments made by President Trump, in which the shooter railed against a perceived “invasion” of Hispanics coming into the United States. He then targeted a shopping area in El Paso that is about 5 miles from the main border checkpoint with Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
Tens of thousands of Mexicans cross the border legally each day to work and shop in the city of 680,000 full-time residents, and El Paso County is more than 80% Latino, according to the latest census data.
The Mexican victims were identified as Sara Esther Regalado of Ciudad Juarez; Adolfo Cerros Hernández of Aguascalientes; Jorge Calvillo García of Torreon, Coahuila; Elsa Mendoza de la Mora of Yepomera, Chihuahua; Gloria Irma Marquez of Ciudad Juarez; María Eugenia Legarreta of the city of Chihuahua; Ivan Filiberto Manzano of Ciudad Juarez; and Juan de Dios Velázquez Chairez of Zacatecas. Other victims may have also been of Mexican descent.
As the news dominated weekend headlines, some in Mexico said the shooting was the result of the simmering resentment that President Trump stirred in his presidential campaign when he called Mexicans coming to the United States “rapists” and “criminals.” The U.S.-Mexico relationship was further strained after he took office and vowed to build a border wall and slap tariffs on Mexican imports.
On Sunday, López Obrador chose his words carefully when speaking of the shooting.
“In spite of the pain, the outrage” that Mexicans are feeling, he said, the U.S. is headed toward elections and Mexico doesn’t want to interfere in the “internal affairs” of other countries. He said the events in Texas reaffirmed his conviction that “social problems shouldn’t be confronted with the use of force and by inciting hate.”
Former President Felipe Calderón said via Twitter that regardless of whether the shooting was a hate crime, Trump “should stop his hate speech. He should stop stigmatizing others.”
Amatza Gutiérrez, a student from Mexico City, said the idea of a shooter targeting Mexicans because of their ethnicity gives her goose bumps.
“I don’t understand why anyone would go to that extreme,” the 24-year-old said.