It shouldn't be hard for Mexican poet Javier Sicilia to convince US citizens that there's something wrong with our country's war on drugs—a war that has claimed the lives of more than 50,000 Mexicans. It shouldn't be hard, but Sicilia has spent more than a year leading a movement in his country to bring changes to his own country's policies and shedding light on U.S. culpability in a disaster that has hurt our neighbor.
Here's hoping that the Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity will help further the message Scilia and other victim's of this failed drug war are bringing to this side of the border.
The poet lost his son Juanelo more than a year ago, a loss that sparked the movement that inspired many in his country to demand reforms and is inspiring many in this country to ask the US to change policies that continue to contribute the deaths of Mexican citizens.
The Caravan, which left San Diego last weekend, arrives in Tucson today at 2:30 p.m. from a stop in Phoenix. First Tucson stop is a welcoming ceremony at 2:30 p.m. at the U.S. Federal Building, 300 W. Congress St., followed by a 3 p.m. press conference. Southside Presbyterian Church, 317 W. 23rd St., will host a dinner at 4:30 p.m., followed by a community forum from 6 to 9 p.m. Worth every bit of your time.
Waging Nonviolence's Marta Molina wrote about the caravan and has written about the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity the past year. You can read her entire story on the caravan here, but here's a snippet:
The first caravan, called the Caravan of Solace, left on June 4, 2011, and ran from Cuernavaca, Morelos, to Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, then crossed the northern border to conclude in El Paso, Texas. Over the course of 10 days, it united victims of the drug war, who began to turn their pain into organizing, while showing the world that they were not simply statistics or collateral damage. Rather, they were Mexicans seeking dignity.
Those were the first steps taken by members of the MPJD. During their first dialogue with Mexican President Felipe Calderón on June 23, 2011, they demanded justice for the victims of violence and a halt to the War on Drugs. Afterward, they organized a second caravan in September 2011. This caravan, called the Caravan of Peace, passed through Puebla, Veracruz, Oaxaca and Chiapas before reaching Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala. With those two caravans in 2011, the movement managed to bring together victims of the War on Drugs — and of the structural violence found throughout the country — as well as organizations and social movements in the north and south.
In doing, it reinforced alliances with those who already had long organizing histories, such as with Las Abejas de Acteal, in Los Altos de Chenalhó, Chiapas, whose members shared lessons from their long history of nonviolent struggle, beginning in 1997 with the massacre of 45 indigenous tzotziles. Representatives from indigenous communities in Chiapas, from the Consejo de Pueblos, or Council of Villages, in Morelos, and members of the Wixárica (Huichol) community, among others, will be accompanying the caravan to the United States.
After a year of working and learning, the MPJD continues improving its strategies and strengthening its national and international networks of support. Organizers decided to embark on the Caravan for Peace in order to unite and draw attention to victims of violence on the northern side of the border — migrants forced to flee their homes by violence or economic need, those who are threatened for defending human rights or those left unprotected by Mexico’s failed state.
Many who have been affected by the War on Drugs are no longer afraid. They have realized that they are no longer alone and continue to work to strengthen their organization. They are no longer fighting to find their parents or children, or to seek justice for their loved ones, but instead they are fighting for all parents and children of the disappeared.