Walking together with the victims of the War on Drugs
- Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity: A bi-national initiative
The War on Drugs has produced painful consequences in both Mexico and the United States, leaving a trail of death, pain and corruption in its path. Growing violence in Mexico – over 70,000 deaths. 10,000 disappearances since 2006 – and the mass incarceration of non-violent criminals in the US – with only 5% of the world’s population, the US has 25% of the world’s imprisoned population – are testament to the ways in which the War on Drugs is eating away at the social fabric of both the US and Mexico.
United States’ regional security policy has led to a chain reaction resulting in widespread violence, human rights violations and serious deterioration of the rule of law. The relationship between the Mexican and U.S. governments has fueled this war strategy, and has had devastating consequences on the most vulnerable people – migrants, indigenous populations, youth, women and other marginalized groups. We see the vicious cycle of drug consumption, weapons’ purchase and a financial system deeply involved in money laundering stemming from these polices. And we lament that our own governments have re-victimized and criminalized those who seek justice and dignity.
Faced with this reality, we recognize that drug prohibition has failed.
Mexico is in a state of emergency – and companies and governments of both countries must take responsibility for their complicity in causing this damage. Leaders on both sides of the border are responsible for the fallout of treating the sale and use of illicit drugs as a matter of national security instead of addressing it as a public health matter. This approach, carried out in Mexico by institutions that fail to respect the rule of law and have been permeated by organized crime, has resulted in our governments’ failure to protect their people and defend their rights.
We, the victims, citizens and civil society organizations in Mexico and the United States, have decided to participate in the Caravan for Peace in the hope that as we meet as neighbors, we will engage in a friendly but critical dialogue to guarantee justice and dignity, and through this, a much-needed peace.
o We are moved by the love we have for our murdered and missing sons and daughters, our orphans, our police and military officers killed on duty, whether acting honestly or corrupted by organized crime.
o We are moved by the pain of the children abducted, the missing women, the journalists killed, those who have been tortured, and by the dismembered bodies found by the hundreds in mass clandestine graves.
o We are moved by the unsafe transit routes that migrants traverse within Mexico, and angered by those human traffickers who take advantage of the vulnerability of thousands of migrants from Central America who cross Mexico in search of the American dream.
o We are moved by the homicides related to drug prohibition and lax weapons laws in the U.S, by the thousands of people incarcerated for non-violent drug crimes and the many orphans they leave behind.
o We are moved by those who die from overdoses and diseases contracted through drug use, and by those who are kidnapped and extorted, a phenomena which especially affects migrants and other marginalized communities.
o And we are moved by all those who have been led to participate in organized crime because of the structural violence that they live with.
On August 12, we Mexicans will enter the United States and travel along a route of more than 25 cities in one month. We bring a message of peace, with the deep understanding that we are all part of the same human family. Our journey will be peaceful, undertaken with open hearts, and with the hope of finding each other, looking at one another, and speaking in friendship and understanding with the victims from both of our neighboring countries. We will talk about the actions we can all take within our own communities to promote peace, justice and dignity. And we will make common cause out of the belief that the harm we are all experiencing is intimately linked to failed policies that must be changed.
On Drug War policies. We propose the need to find a solution, with a multidisciplinary and intergenerational approach that places individuals, and their welfare and dignity, at the center of drug policy. We call on both the Mexican and the U.S. community to open and maintain a dialogue about alternatives to Prohibition based on evidence, and which is inclusive in its considerations of the diverse options for drug regulation.
On arms trafficking. We propose that the President of the United States immediately prohibit the importation of assault weapons to the United States. Assault weapons are often smuggled into Mexico, and have also been used too many times against innocent civilians in the US. We propose giving authorities effective regulatory tools and adequate resources to halt arms smuggling in the border regions, especially in border states like Arizona and Texas.
On money laundering. We call for governments on both sides of the border to take concrete steps to combat money laundering. We propose that financial institutions be held accountable for preventing money laundering through increased government surveillance, investigations, fines and criminal charges. We also call for the Treasury Department to immediately implement Congress’ 2009 call to close the “prepaid/stored value cards” loophole.
On US foreign aid policy. We call for a change from the United States’ “war” focus to one of human security and development that contemplates promoting the healing of Mexico’s torn social fabric. We propose the immediate suspension of US assistance to Mexico’s armed forces. The “shared responsibility” for peace that both governments share must begin with each country complying with its own respective national laws.
On immigration. We call for a change in the policies that have militarized the border and criminalized immigrants. These policies have generated a humanitarian crisis driven by unprecedented levels of deportations and incarceration of migrants. In addition, these policies have also inflicted immeasurable environmental damage. We call for protecting the dignity of every human being, including immigrant populations that have been displaced by violence who are fleeing to the US seeking safe haven and a better life.
We hope you will join us as we come together to work for peace with justice and dignity.
Caravana for Peace With Justice and Dignity