A new peace movement to end the US-sponsored drug war begins with buses rolling and feet marching from the Tijuana–San Diego border on August 12 through twenty-five US cities to Washington, DC, in September.
Named the Caravan for Peace, the trek is intended to put human faces and names on the estimated 60,000 dead, 10,000 disappeared and 160,000 displaced people in Mexico since 2006, when the US Drug Enforcement Agency, Pentagon and the CIA supported the escalation of the Mexican armed forces.
The caravan, which has staged mass marches across Mexico since 2011, is led by well-known Catholic poet Javier Sicilia, 56, whose son Juan Francisco, then 24, was killed in crossfire in Cuernavaca in March 2011. After his son’s death, Sicilia, vowing not to write poetry any longer, formed a Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD) and penned an anguished grito, or cry, titled “Estamos Hasta La Madre!” The English equivalent might be “Fed Up!,” but the Spanish slang also means that the authorities “insulted our mother protector, they’ve committed a sacrilege,” Sicilia says.
About seventy Mexican activists, many of whom are are relatives of victims, and about thirty Americans will accompany Sicilia on the caravan along the US-Mexico border, north from New Orleans through Mississippi and Alabama, to Chicago, Cleveland, New York City, Baltimore and Washington, DC. The US-based Global Exchange is charged with coordination and logistics. More than 100 US immigrant rights and peace groups are actively involved, including the Drug Policy Alliance, the NAACP, the Washington Office on Latin America, the Center for International Policy’s Americas Program, the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, the National Latino Congreso, Presente.org and Veterans for Peace. Fifty grassroots groups are involved from California alone.
The caravan may force a response from President Obama, who at the Summit of the Americans this past April stated “it is entirely legitimate to have a conversation about whether the laws in place are ones that are doing more harm than good in certain places.” At this point, the caravan has not reached a decision on whether to seek a meeting with the White House, according to caravan spokesman Daniel Robelo of the Drug Policy Alliance. But it will hold briefings on Capitol Hill and intends to reach out to administration officials, Robelo says.