A “peace caravan,” which has spent a week travelling through Mexico to protest against drug-related violence and the “war on drugs,” crossed the border into the US at Juárez-El Paso on June 11. Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, who led the National Citizen Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity, appealed for a similar citizen mobilization in the US. “The US has a grave responsibility in all this, when its citizens remain silent, they are imposing war on us,” said Sicilia, whose son was recently killed in drug-related violence. “Americans have to realize that behind every puff of pot, every line of coke there is death, there are shattered families.” Sicilia and his convoy of about 20 vehicles began their journey in Cuernavaca, south of Mexico City, and have criss-crossed the country, holding rallies against the escalating violence and militarization along the way. (RFI, Spain, June 12; BBC News, AP, June 11)
At a rally in El Paso’s Alligator Park, Sicilia called upon the US government to suspend the Merida Initiative, a multi-billion dollar anti-narcotics aid program, which he said is only worsening the crisis. Sicilia called on Washington policy-makers to rethink their approach to the crisis, emphasizing public health rather than national security. (Proceso, June 11)
Mexican police last month arrested a man they suspect of being behind the murder of Juan Francisco Sicilia, the poet’s son, and six other young men in March. Julio de Jesus Radilla AKA “El Negro” was detained in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz. Authorities suspect Radilla of being the leader of the Pacifico Sur drug cartel in the central state of Morelos, where the seven men were killed. (BBC News, May 25)
See our last post on Mexico’s narco wars.