September 11, 2012
Press Conference: Mexican Victims of Drug War Call for Stricter Gun Laws and Changes in Drug Policy
Washington, DC—On September 10, the Mexican Caravan for Peace arrived in Washington, DC on the last stop of its 25-city journey across the United States to call for an end to the failed drug war that has devastated individuals, families, and entire communities on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Led by poet and movement leader Javier Sicilia, profiled in Time Magazine’s 2011 “Person of the Year” issue, and others from Mexico and the United States that have lost loved ones in the drug war violence, the Caravan for Peace is a bi-national effort of more than 100 U.S. organizations and more than 50 Mexican organizations. The Caravan has traveled more than 6,000 miles through dozens of cities, including Los Angeles, Santa Fe, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, and New York. (See this Reuters video about the Caravan’s New York visit.)
The drug war has led to more than 60,000 murders in Mexico in the last five years and incarcerated millions in the United States at a cost of over $1 trillion in the past 40 years. The Caravan’s ultimate goal is to help bring an end to that war by urging alternatives to drug policies and sensible regulations of the U.S. gun market, among other critical changes.
“We have traveled 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,” said Javier Sicilia, the poet-turned-activist and Caravan leader who galvanized the movement to end the drug war in Mexico after his son, Juan Francisco, was killed last year. “Our purpose is to honor our victims, to make their names and faces visible.”
Over the course of the past year, Sicilia’s movement—the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (Movimiento por la Paz con Justicia y Dignidad, MPJD)—has traveled across Mexico to some of the most dangerous areas of the country, including Ciudad Juarez and the Mexico-Guatemala border. Throughout Mexico, courageous families who have suffered drug war violence have come forward to tell their stories, often at great personal risk.
The MPJD launched the current Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity because few people in the U.S. understand the role their government plays in fueling violence in Mexico. U.S. consumption of illicit drugs stimulates drug production and trafficking in Mexico. Current drug policies, rather than reducing drug use or supply, have created a vast and destructive illegal market that finances organized crime. The Mexican government’s strategies to combat drug trafficking, funded by the United States, have only intensified the violence while causing or contributing to gross violations of human rights. Weak regulation and lax enforcement also make the United States’ gun market a paradise for Mexican drug traffickers. Thousands of guns trafficked illegally from the United States end up arming violent drug cartels in Mexico.
Who: Javier Sicilia, prominent Mexican poet who started the Movement for Peace; family members and victims of drug war violence in Mexico; and national and local organizations that are supporting and accompanying the caravan, including the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and the Latin America Working Group (LAWG).
What: Press conference with poet-turned-activist Javier Sicilia, and victims of violence in Mexico
When: Tuesday, September 11, 1 p.m. EST
Where: Lutheran Church of the Reformation
212 East Capitol Street
Please click here to view the full schedule of events for the caravan, including Wednesday’s vigil.
The Caravan for Peace is on Facebook, Twitter (@CaravanaUSA), and Flickr and can be reached at [email protected].