Saturday, June 4, 2011

Historic Anti-Drug War Caravan Heads to Juarez, Mexico

by Kristin Bricker

The caravan reaches Mexico City.  Photo: Santiago
I waited until it was a sure thing to announce it: I'll be covering the Juarez-bound caravan against the drug war that Mexican poet and journalist Javier Sicilia convoked following the brutal murder of his son, Juan Francisco, this past March.   Sicilia chose Juarez--the deadliest city in the world--as the site to sign a "Citizens Pact for Peace" on June 10.

The Citizens Pact for Peace is a commitment that civil society organizations will make to each other to pressure the government to fulfill specific demands within a firm timeframe, such as justly resolving eight high-profile crimes: the deadly campaign against the Reyes Salazar family; the murders of Rubí and Marcela Escobedo, Bety Cariño and Jirí Jaakola; the deadly fire at the ABC Daycare that claimed the lives of 49 toddlers; the murders and kidnappings of members of the LeBarón family in Galeana, Chihuahua; and the youth massacred in Juarez’s Villas de Salvárcar and the state of Morelos.  They are also demanding constitutional human rights reforms and that Congress kill the proposed reform to the National Security Law, which would legalize the unconstitutional drug war.  The Pact also demands that Congress pass laws that would allow impeachment.

The caravan left Cuernavaca this morning.  Following a stop in Mexico City, it'll head to Morelia, Michocan, the site of the horrendous frag grenade attack against Independence Day celebrations in 2008.  The Morelia attack marked the first time the world (including many Mexicans) realized that innocent civilians were targets in the drug war.  Morelia is just one of twelve Mexican cities the caravan will visit.   Sicilia's idea is to caravan into the heart of the drug war, to the cities that have been most affected by drug war violence

The caravan will also visit Toluca, Mexico State; San Luis Potosi, San Luis Potosi; Zacatecas, Zacatecas; Durango, Durango; Saltillo, Coahila; Monterrey, NL; Torreon, Coahuila; Chihuahua City, Chihuahua; and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, where a cross-border event will happen with El Paso, Texas.

Check back to this blog, and also on Twitter at, because I'll be sending out constant updates about the people I meet as the caravan makes its way through some of Mexico's most war-torn cities.

Today, I would like to leave you with a letter that Julian LeBaron wrote to Javier Sicilia's murdered son, who was known as Juanelo.  LeBaron, whom I wrote about in "Mexico's Drug War Victims Find Their Voice in Massive Silent March," lost his brother and brother-in-law to drug war violence because the LeBaron's community dared to stand up to organized crime.  Here's what LeBaron had to say to Juanelo today:
"I didn't arrive in time to shake your hand.  I couldn't look you in the eyes.  I don't know how many years you lived, or what games you played.  Nor do I know what your favorite food was.  I don't know if you ever held a woman's hand, and I never heard the sound of your voice.  But your absence hurts me greatly.  Your father's gaze has infected me.
"I also don't know much about your friends' lives and what happened to them--those who were murdered with you.  Nor do I know what to say about the 40,000 men, women, and children who are no longer here.
"You know what?  I lost a brother, too.  They killed him because he wanted to live in peace.  But you didn't know him, either. 
"There's too much bloodshed.  The color red accumulates on the ground, and it begins to erase names, last names, professions, ages, sexes, social classes, and skin color. 
"Today, collective tragedy must unite us as we have never been united before.    This time, the cause isn't an earthquake or a flood.  The cause is a seed of disdain for us, the Mexican people, which we have silently cultivated for years.  And now we can see its tricks. 
"I've come to march to scream that all of the dead are sons and daughters of someone.  They aren't stones or numbers.  Imagine the fathers and mothers of all of the people who are dying in Mexico.  We are all sons and daughters of someone.  And sadness and pain is accumulating in fathers' and mothers' eyes.  But hearts accumulate decision. 
"Javier Sicilia's son isn't here anymore.  Many other sons and daughters are no longer here.  I want to march in their name, because I don't want to be anyone's anonymous son.  I don't want apathy to erase everyone's faces. 
"This march is to once again meet with each other on a route of humanity and strength.  This is the beginning of the solution.  The philosopher Keith Raniere says that human suffering is the driving force behind our ability to be noble. 
"Over the next few days, I invite you to march, so that we leave behind prejudices and the hate that keeps us from seeing each other.  Let's propose, in this caravan of condolences, to feel deeply and respect our pain.  Let's use this great instrument as our weapon to connect with the spirit and the truth."


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