MEXICO CITY — Many in Mexico were reeling Sunday from revelations that a shooting that killed 20 people in the border town of El Paso, Texas appears to have been aimed at Hispanics — and Mexicans in particular.
Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard labeled the shooting “an act of terrorism” against Mexicans and urged the U.S. government to establish a “clear and convincing position against hate crimes.”
Six Mexicans were killed and another seven of the country’s citizens were among the dozens wounded, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Sunday.
“Mexico is outraged,” Ebrard said, calling the shooting an “act of barbarism.”
Just minutes before the rampage, U.S. investigators believe the shooter posted a rambling online manifesto in which he railed against a perceived “invasion” of Hispanics coming into the U.S. He then allegedly targeted a shopping area in El Paso that is about 5 miles (8 kilometers) 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 the city of Aguascalientes; Jorge Calvillo García of Torreon, Coahuila; Elsa Mendoza de la Mora of Yepomera, Chihuahua; Gloria Irma Marquez of Ciudad Juarez; and María Eugenia Legarreta Rothe of the city of Chihuahua.
Other victims may have also been of Mexican descent, while one man who had traveled to El Paso from Mexico to buy school supplies for his daughter was among those severely wounded.
As the news dominated weekend headlines, however, some said the shooting was the natural result of simmering resentment that President Donald Trump had stirred early into his presidential campaign when he called Mexicans coming into the U.S. “rapists” and “criminals.” The U.S.-Mexico relationship was only 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” 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 also 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 is a hate crime, Pres. Trump “should stop his hate speech. He should stop stigmatizing others.”
Amatza Gutiérrez, a student from the Mexican capital, 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.
Her friend Carlos Franco, who recently graduated from college with a degree in international business, said the shooting had made him not want to travel to the United States.