Let me start with some verses from The Hill by Edgar Lee Masters: “All, all are sleeping on the hill.// They brought them dead sons from the war,/ And daughters life had crushed,/ And their children fathers, crying,/ All, all are sleeping, sleeping, sleeping on the hill.”
For all those who are sleeping on the hill, in the refugee shelters, for those whose sons and daughters are now dead because of this absurd war against drugs, for those who are persecuted, displaced and listening to the never-ending cry of the orphans and do not find rest, and for their pain, the pain of an endless hill of dead, I ask for a minute of silence.
More than a year ago, at the end of the Caravan for Consolation, that went through the north of Mexico embracing the grief of the victims of this painful war against drugs, we arrived here to El Paso, Texas, where we faced a new pain: that of Mexicans and Central Americans who had been wronged by organized crime, not only whose families had been killed in Mexico, but also were pushed by the corrupt police linked to crime, and which threatened them until, against their will and against their cry for justice had to cross the border to escape death. They are illegal immigrants, displaced, exiled without exile, victims without justice that beside the murdering of their sons and daughters have lost their homes, their lives, their homeland; in turn, they have become absolutely defenseless both against the Mexican and the American governments. If these human beings have not yet succumbed it is only because of the love of others that, as all those who make the existence of shelters such as Casa Anunciación possible, nurture, nourish and protect them.
Nothing justifies this; nothing can do it in the midst of the 21st century and the democracy era. Nevertheless, they remain there as silent witnesses of a cruelty that we cannot tolerate, since it shames and questions not only democracy, but justice and humanity itself.
These displaced people, these immigrants –many of whom cannot even make it to the United States because they are slaughtered or enslaved on their way and disappear in Mexico by criminal groups colluded with bureaucrats from the Mexican Institute of Migration, the corrupt police and soldiers – these men and women are not only the face of absolute vulnerability and injustice, but that of a migratory policy that complicates the cause of the war and keeps building a social imaginary that, far from helping them, criminalizes and shames them.
The displaced and the immigrants, who are victims of economic misery, of criminals and governments, when arriving to the United States are looked at with disdain by American citizens, persecuted like animals by the police and turned over, when deported, to the criminal groups and to a government that never protected them in the first place.
We might be told that it is a matter of laws and an issue that our government and ourselves should solve. And you are right. But we tell you that this problem is worsened because of a war that stems from the United States, a war that, while intended to prevent the consumption of drugs by 23 million American citizens is in fact contributing to the violence of the Mexican armed forces – that constantly violate the human rights – to the reinforcement of the violence of crime – related to the illegal traffic of firearms – and is also reinforcing the misconception among American citizens that the displaced and the immigrants coming from this painful zones are in fact criminals.
The consumption of drugs in the United States has not decreased –even among you there are celebrities, such as Paris Hilton and Charlie Sheen, who promote consumption while the American government and society do nothing about it. Instead, this absurd war in which the United States invests hundreds of millions of dollars, has not only resulted in almost 70 thousand killed in Mexico, and about 20 thousand missing and tens of thousands of orphans and widows that day after day are increasing, but has generated great displacements of human beings to the United States, persecuted by violence, insecurity and corruption, and aggravated by the migratory problem.
This issue, therefore, is not exclusively a matter that concerns our government and our country, but also concerns the government of the United States and its citizens who allow this to happen. Hence, this problem has a shared nature, and obliges American and Mexican citizens alike to solve it together and setting it as a priority in the political agenda of both countries.
What can you do?
First, look with compassion at all those who have been displaced in this war, protect them and return them their dignity and humanity; they are not criminals but human beings who have been harmed, humiliated and persecuted.
Second, accept that these immigrants are part of the life and greatness of the United States.
Third, ask for a regularization of drugs, that is, that the American, Mexican and worldwide governments, just as in the past was done in the case of alcohol, subject drugs to strict marketing laws and the control of the governments.
Fourth, demand the that the money the American government sends to Mexico to fight drugs is not only allocated to reconstruct the social tissue of the poorest communities and to rebuild the corrupted institutions of the country, but also demand that, along with the latter, they create an unyielding set of limits around the illegal traffic of firearms.
Fifth, demand from the American and Mexican governments alike to perform a frontal and clear attack against money laundering and those bank institutions that allow and foster it.
Only in this way we will be able to contribute to putting an end to Mexico’s pain, to humanize the life of the immigrants and those displaced to the United States and diminish their inflow. Only in this way we will be able to save the democratic life that this war is destroying, and make possible that we never again have to receive in our arms our dead sons, our butchered sons and daughters, and we can comfort the screams of the crying orphans. Only in this way we will have contributed to saving peace.
August, 21, 2012, El Paso Texas