Pubdate: Sat, 25 Aug 2012
Source: San Antonio Express-News (TX)
Copyright: 2012 San Antonio Express-News
Author: Melody C. Mendoza
Cited: Caravan for Peace:


Irma Leticia Hidalgo stepped off the bus with her 18-year-old son, 
immediately unfolding a sign and holding a photo of Roy Rivera 
Hidalgo, her now-20-year-old son who was kidnapped more than a year ago.

"We want to find him," she said. "(We came) so we could be heard by 
the authorities."

"This is something very difficult," Hidalgo's son Ricardo Rivera said 
in Spanish. "He is my only brother."

Hidalgo was just one of the 105 victims, family members and activists 
who participated in Friday evening's stop of the Caravan for Peace 
with Justice and Dignity, led by well-known Mexican poet Javier 
Sicilia, whose son was killed in drug violence last year. Activists 
say 70,000 people have been killed or have disappeared in Mexico's drug war.

The U.S. tour began in San Diego, Calif., and will continue to the 
state Capitol in Austin this afternoon. The caravan will end in 
Washington, D.C., next month, in hopes of creating awareness of the 
violence and encouraging U.S. citizens to take action on an issue 
that activists say is a shared responsibility.

"If we're not successful in detaining (drug groups in Mexico), then 
eventually they will come for (Americans) themselves," Sicilia said.

Sicilia put it simply to Americans: "Unite."

John Dauer, a volunteer organizer of the event here, said he hopes 
San Antonians will remember victims' stories and act.

He added that U.S. citizens should begin to assemble groups to 
influence politicians in five areas: drug war policies, arms 
trafficking, immigration, U.S. foreign policy and money laundering.

Similar to the activists participating in the caravan, Alejandro 
Siller, coordinator of the San Antonio event, hopes to put a stop to 
the increasing human toll through peace.

"Violence with violence will never get us anywhere," Siller said. 
"The solution is in both countries. My hope is that the U.S. will 
open their eyes and hearts to an issue that's affecting all of us."

Siller said his concern over the suffering and violence in his native 
country led him to connect with the caravan almost a year ago. 
Originally from Saltillo, Mexico, Siller said his distant relatives 
have come face-to-face with the violence.

And Daniel Vega Hernandez, who joined the caravan in El Paso, was no 
different. The violence was so bad in the town of Juarez Valley in 
Guadalupe that his 20-member family had to move to the United States.

Hernandez was accompanied by members of Mexicanos en Exilio, or 
Mexicans in Exile, a nonprofit organization founded by Carlos Spector 
to help those forced to flee Mexico.

Alejandra Spector, also on the caravan and a member of the group, 
hopes those in the United States will be more aware and appealed for 
them "not to allow either side to get away with these injustices."

A common desire of those on the caravan was to put a face to the 
recurring story of the killings and disappearances.

The story of San Antonio resident Margarita McAuliffe of Texas Moms 
United illustrates the U.S. side of the problem.

McAuliffe's 28-year-old son has been incarcerated twice on possession 
charges. She said going to jail doesn't help him stop using drugs, 
and she hopes to see more treatment.

It's no coincidence that the caravan is ending in Washington, where 
Enrique Morones, a member of Angeles de la Frontera, is already 
trying to schedule a meeting with President Barack Obama to voice the 
testimonials and ask for help.

"It's a joint pain," Morones said. "And by working together, we will 
overcome this."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom