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Is this a welcoming sign?

A year ago, then-President Felipe Calderon inaugurated this billboard (above) at the border with Texas to protest what he described as a river of assault weapons being smuggled into Mexico.

Calderon is now gone, ensconced in a teaching post at Harvard. The billboard made of crushed weapons is still there, and at least one state legislator doesn’t like it.

Gerardo Hernandez Ibarra, a state legislator in Chihuahua, is calling for the removal of the billboard, which faces Texas near an international bridge connecting El Paso with Ciudad Juarez.

Hernandez made his feelings known on a posting at his Facebook page on Dec. 24. Here’s some of what he wrote, loosely translated from Spanish:


“The spectacular sign with huge letters says "NO MORE WEAPONS." The intention of this sign was really say to (the United States) to cut the flow and sale without control of assault weapons as a way to confront organized crime. … The sign sends a strong message to those visitors who intend to come to our country that says, “There is still violence in MEXICO."


Hernandez said he is not opposed to fighting weapons trafficking. In a video also posted on his Facebook page, Hernandez notes: “If this sign were helpful in halting the flow of weapons, I’d be here to defend it. But that’s not the case. It hasn’t done any good. All it does is provoke an image of us as bad neighbors to El Paso residents. We should tear it down and put one up that says, ‘Welcome!’”


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Vicente Fox

How about a sign apologizing to the American people for what they did to Jon Hammar?

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This blog is written by Tim Johnson, the Mexico bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers.

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