Travelling for peace
Jackson, Mississippi – On Tuesday, August 28th , the “Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity” will stop in Jackson on its voyage across the United States as it works to create a bi-national movement against the failed drug war that has left more than 70,000 dead in Mexico in the last five years.
Led by Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, families of victims from Mexico will tell the story of the human toll of the war on drugs, while building powerful ties with local communities in the United States that are also deeply impacted by the failed drug war—the longest and deadliest war in U.S. history.
The goal of the Caravan for Peace is to engage in citizen diplomacy to put an end to the war on drugs and start a healing process from the national emergency that has devastated Mexico.
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, Jackson, Montgomery, New Orleans, Chicago and New York—before arriving in Washington, D.C., on September 10. At each stop, the Caravan will be welcomed by local communities, who have planned many events. 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: http://www.caravanforpeace.org.
MIRA and many other organizations in Mississippi are supporting the Caravan as it passes through, by holding a news conference and forum to commemorate victims of the drug war in both countries. The Caravan will arrive in Jackson at 12: noon at the state capitol building for a news conference under the Rotunda. At 2:30 pm a community forum will be held in room 216, the old Supreme Court chamber on the second floor of the Capitol, led by MIRA President, Rep. Jim Evans.
“Most people are unaware that along with economic devastation, violence drives people away from their homelands,” says Bill Chandler. “U.S. consumers drive the violent competition between the drug cartels, more properly defined as drug corporations, which have affected all communities throughout the U.S.. The so-called ‘War on Drugs’ has not stopped consumption in the U.S., but has been used more as an excuse to enact harsh laws that has resulted in our country having more people locked up than any other country—even China. The only people who profit from this are the for-profit prison corporations who constantly lobby for increased penalties and more prisons, at the expense our families especially in communities of color,” he continues. “Further it has been used to manipulate the economic and political dynamics in Mexico, Colombia and other Latin American countries.”
Javier 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 undertaken similar caravans across Mexico to collect stories of the destruction caused by the war against drugs and organized crime. Through these caravans, victims have expressed in their own voices the drug war’s disastrous consequences.
“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.”
Since 2006, Mexico has experienced unprecedented pain: more than 70,000 people have been killed and more than 10,000 have disappeared in violence resulting largely from the failure of drug prohibition. The drug war has produced painful consequences in the United States as well, especially the mass incarceration of non-violent people – overwhelming people of color.
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.
More specifically, the Caravan calls for:
The exploration of alternatives to drug prohibition, including diverse forms of drug regulation and decriminalization;
a halt to the illegal smuggling of weapons across the border to Mexico, which can be achieved without infringing on U.S. constitutional rights;
concrete steps to combat money laundering, including holding financial institutions accountable;
the immediate suspension of U.S. assistance to Mexico’s armed forces, and a reorientation of U.S. aid to Mexico in a manner that prioritizes human security; and
an end to the militarization of the border and the criminalization of immigrants, and the adoption of policies that protect the dignity of every human being.
Nearly 100 U.S. organizations* are a part of the Caravan initiative, including MIRA, the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), National Latino Congress, Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), Latin America Working Group (LAWG), Border Angels / Angeles de la Frontera, CIP-Americas Program, Presente.org, 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.