Thursday, August 16, 2012

Caravan for Peace in Mexico drug war arrives in Tucson today

The "Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity" stopped in Tucson today on its voyage across the United States, as it works to create a bi-national movement against the drug war that has left more than 60,000 dead in Mexico over the last five years.

Two events in Tucson welcomed the caravan and gave community members the opportunity to participate:
  1. A 2:30 p.m gathering at Federal Courthouse which then moved to Pancho Villa Park for a 3 p.m. press conference and 
  2. a Community Forum from 6pm to 9pm at Southside Presbyterian Church at 317 W. 23rd Street.
The event gave Tucson residents who are concerned with the interrelationship between U.S. policy and drug violence a focal point around which to rally.
Javier Sicilia addresses press in Tijuana, Mexico
at onset of caravan. Photo credit: Erin Siegal.

Led by Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, the goal of the Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity is to engage in citizen diplomacy, to put an end to the war on drugs, and to start a healing process following the national emergency that has devastated Mexico. Since 2006, more than 60,000 people have been killed and more than 10,000 have disappeared in violence resulting largely from the failure of drug prohibition. But the United States' war on drugs has produced painful consequences here as well, especially the mass incarceration of people for non-violent offenses - overwhelmingly people of color.

More than 100 individuals - primarily families of victims from Mexico - will share personal stories of the fallout from the war in that country, while building ties with Tucsonans who have also been deeply impacted by the United States' failed drug policies. A press conference accompanied by a rally at the United States federal building in Tucson will take place at 3:00pm. At 6:00pm a community forum will take place during which families and victims of the two countries' failed drug policies will speak out.

"Our purpose is to honor our victims, to make their names and faces visible," Sicilia said. "We will travel across the United States to raise awareness of the unbearable pain and loss caused by the drug war - and of the enormous shared responsibility for protecting families and communities in both our countries."

Sicilia emerged as a leader of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD) after his son Juan Francisco was killed in senseless prohibition-related violence last year. Since then, the MPJD has led caravans across Mexico to collect stories of the destruction caused by U.S. and Mexican policy.

Bringing together victims of the drug war from both countries, the Caravan aims to expose the root causes of violence in Mexico, to raise awareness about the effects of the drug war on communities in the U.S., and to inspire U.S. civil society to demand new policies that will foster peace, justice and human dignity on both sides of the border.

The Caravan will trek over 6,000 miles through more than 25 cities and communities in ten states-including Los Angeles, Santa Fe, El Paso, Houston, Montgomery, New Orleans, Chicago and New York City - before arriving in Washington, D.C., on September 10. The Caravan will officially conclude on September 12 by calling for an International Day of Action for Peace in Mexico. You can learn more at:

Nearly 100 U.S. organizations* are a part of the Caravan initiative, including the Tucson-area groups Coalicion de Derechos Humanos, AZ Interfaith Alliance for Worker Justice, Alianza Indígena sin Fronteras, American Friends Service Committee of Tucson, Occupy Tucson, Border Action Network, Corazón de Tucson, No More Deaths, St. Philips in the Hills Episcopal Church, Arizona Worker Rights Center, Southside Workers' Center, Restoration Project, Tierra y Libertad, as well as national organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Latin America Working Group (LAWG), the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC), Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), National Latino Congress, Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), Border Angels / Angeles de la Frontera, CIP-Americas Program,, Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), Students for a Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), Veterans for Peace, Witness for Peace, L.A. Community Legal Center, Hermandad Mexicana Transnacional, School of the Americas Watch, and Global Exchange.

Also participating are: Alianza Cívica, Sin Fronteras, INEDIM, Fuerzas Unidas por los Desaparecidos en México, Asociación Popular de Familiares de Migrantes (APOFAM), FUNDEM; Red por los Derechos de la Infancia, CuPIDH, Espolea, Reverdecer, Iniciativa Ciudadana para la Promoción de la cultura de Diálogo, Pastoral de Movilidad Humana, Alarbo, Servicios para la Paz, Serapaz; and Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social (Cencos), and many more.
* Supporting organizations do not necessarily endorse all of the Caravan's policy positions.

Other internet resources:


Mimi Lenox said...

Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Billie. So much senseless violence.

Billie Greenwood said...

Thanks for stopping by, Mimi...and for all you do to promote peace. Peace and justice people are the best people in the world!