Pubdate: Sat, 18 Aug 2012
Source: Albuquerque Journal (NM)
Copyright: 2012 Albuquerque Journal
Author: Rene Romo
Cited: Caravan for Peace:


LAS CRUCES - Mexican poet Javier Sicilia called for a moment of 
silence for the victims of his homeland's drug violence, a potent 
reminder of the anguish that spawned a cross-country Caravan for 
Peace with Justice and Dignity that made a stop here Friday.

Since the murder last year of his son, Juan Francisco, a seemingly 
random victim of bloody fighting between warring drug cartels, 
Sicilia has emerged as a powerful critic of the war on drugs, 
corruption in Mexico and that nation's law enforcement approach to 
drug consumption.

Sicilia, joined by several dozen supporters and other victims of 
drug-trafficker violence, set off on a bus tour of 20 U.S. cities 
last week to call for the end to the 40-year-old war on drugs and for 
tighter enforcement of weapons sales.

The tour, which makes stops today in Albuquerque and Sunday and 
Monday in Santa Fe, will culminate with a demonstration in 
Washington, D.C., on Sept. 12. The final stop in the nation's capital 
will coincide with events in 30 other cities worldwide on the 
International Day of Action for Peace in Mexico.

"We must work together to convince the governments of the United 
States, of Mexico, to change their approach to drugs to treat it as a 
public heath issue," Sicilia told a gathering of about 200 people at 
Klein Park in downtown Las Cruces on Friday. "When drugs become an 
issue of public health, we'll be able to end the war on drugs and 
stop the flow of weapons across the border (into Mexico)."

Sicilia was accompanied Friday by a group of Mexicans carrying 
posters and signs bearing the images of relatives who have fallen 
victim to violence fueled by competition for illicit drug profits: a 
35-year-old man who disappeared in January 2011 near Guadalajara; a 
man killed in Veracruz in May 2011; four people killed in late 2010 
in the state of Michoacan. One large banner showed the photos of four 
people, underlined by the plea "Return my family to me."

Addressing the crowd, Cristina Roman, a 28-year-old mother of three 
from Ciudad Juarez who is seeking asylum in the United States, told 
how her husband was abducted and murdered, how she witnessed an 
attack on a Juarez bar that left an estimated two dozen dead in March 
2011, and how her father was kidnapped, never to be seen again.

Sicilia said stories such as Roman's represent a fraction of the 
suffering of hundreds of thousands of people in Mexico and the United 
States stemming from drug-related violence.

After taking office in late 2006, Mexican President Felipe Calderon 
deployed federal troops in a war on that nation's powerful drug 
cartels, and since then murders attributed to drug-trafficking groups 
have spiraled past 60,000, with 10,000 disappearances.

Information about the cross-country tour is at

An event called "This is tearing our families apart" is scheduled for 
noon to 2 p.m. today at Holy Family Church, 562 Atrisco Drive in 
Albuquerque; events in Santa Fe include a Mass at 5 p.m. Sunday in 
the Sanctuario de Guadalupe and a rally at 11 a.m. Monday on the Santa Fe plaza.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom