Poet Profiled in Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year” Javier Sicilia and Other Drug War Violence Survivors from Mexico & U.S. Will Conclude Cross-Country Journey in Washington
Press Conference Will Call for Halt in Arms Trafficking to Mexico and Drug Policy Changes to Reduce Violence in Mexico
Washington, D.C.—On September 10th, the Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity will arrive in Washington, D.C. 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.
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.
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.)
“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 violence 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, while current drug policies, rather than reducing drug use or supply, have created a vast and destructive illicit 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; other 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), the Latin America Working Group, the Drug Policy Alliance, Global Exchange, the NAACP, Presente.org, and Law Enforcement against Prohibition.
The Caravan will be in Washington, D.C. from September 10-12. During their visit, they will participate in a number of activities and meetings with government officials and community leaders.
Please click here to view the full schedule of events. KEY EVENTS: Tuesday, September 11 1:00 p.m. Press conference Javier Sicilia, WOLA, and other Caravan participants Lutheran Church of the Reformation 212 East Capitol Street
Wednesday, September 12 7:30 p.m. Vigil and closing comments by Caravan and DC area allies Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park (16thand Euclid Streets NW)
To set up interviews with Caravan members who can speak about their own personal experiences, as well as experts on Mexico and on U.S. policy, please contact Kristel Mucino, WOLA’s communications director, at email@example.com or at 202-797-2171.
For more information, please consult the websites of the Caravan for Peace and the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity
The Caravan for Peace is on Facebook, Twitter (@CaravanaUSA), and Flickr and can be reached at caravanapresspass@
Kristel Mucino 617-584-1713
Daniel Robelo 650-465-2584