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Mexico’s Calderon blames U.S. after casino attack

August 27, 2011

President Felipe Calderon declared three days of mourning on Friday and demanded a crackdown on drugs in the United States after armed men torched a casino in northern Mexico, killing at least 52 people.

Under intense pressure as violence soars, Calderon said he would send more federal security forces to the city of Monterrey, where gunmen set fire to an upmarket casino on Thursday in one of the worst attacks of Mexico’s drug war.

Lashing out at corrupt officials in Mexico and “insatiable” U.S. demand for drugs for fomenting the violence, Calderon urged the U.S. Congress to stamp out drug consumption and stop illegal trafficking of weapons across the border into Mexico.

“We’re neighbors, we’re allies, we’re friends, but you are also responsible,” a somber and angry Calderon said to the United States in a speech after meeting his security advisers.

President Barack Obama called the attack “barbaric” and said his government stood shoulder to shoulder with Mexico in the battle against the gangs.

Washington provides money and resources to Mexico in the drug war, but joint cooperation has been damaged by mistrust, a botched U.S. plan to track down weapons smugglers and the killing by suspected hitmen of a U.S. customs agent in Mexico this year.

Pledging to step up the fight on organized crime, Calderon said Mexico was under attack from “true terrorists,” and told all Mexicans to come forward and denounce those responsible.

But the drug war is becoming increasingly unpopular as more citizens are caught in the crossfire of sparring cartels.

Mexicans took to social networks to call for a candle-lit protest for peace outside the casino in Monterrey, as well as a gathering at Mexico City’s Angel of Independence monument.

More than 375 people had joined a Facebook page “Casino Royale Monterrey everyone united against terrorism” by late on Friday, writing a string of comments denouncing the violence.

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