Pubdate: Fri, 24 Aug 2012
Source: San Antonio Express-News (TX)
Copyright: 2012 San Antonio Express-News
Author: O. Ricardo Pimentel
Cited: Caravan for Peace:


Mandan armas.

Compran drogas.

Gente muere.

After one last poem, Mexican Poet Javier Sicilia said he will not 
write poetry again, following the murder of his son, Juan Francisco, 
24, yet another innocent victim of Mexico's drug violence.

But to speak to Sicilia about what might be done about this is to be 
served up some poetic simplicity.

Allow me to synthesize:

Send arms.

Buy drugs.

People die.

This is the gist of what he said in an interview by cellphone 
Wednesday as his caravan - the Caravan for Peace with Justice and 
Dignity - traversed Texas. It started in San Diego, Calif., and will 
end in Washington, D.C., with a stop this evening in San Antonio. 
More on this in a bit.

Yes, the violence is occurring mostly in Mexico - about 27,000 killed 
last year - but those words above are about us, as in the United 
States. We - our policies and habits - are enablers of sorts, Sicilia 
was saying.

We enable when we send arms, illegally to the cartels and legally to 
the Mexican army. These arms are used by the cartels against one 
another and against the Mexican Army and police, he said. And they 
are used by the Mexican army against the cartels. And many are killed 
as a result, innocents and not so innocents.

We in this country enable through drug use here. As any student of 
Econ 101 can tell you, where demand exists, supply provides.

Sicilia is all too aware of conditions in his own country that enable 
a lot on their own. These include ineffective and corrupt 
institutions and policies that favor enforcement and violence.

But he has had words and action aplenty for Mexicans since the death 
of his son in March last year - found bound and shot in Cuernavaca 
with six friends. He has been critical of Mexican President Felipe 
Calderon's use of the Mexican army against the cartels.

But his point is that this kind of violence does not occur in a 
vacuum. So there is a different audience for Sicilia's caravan.

He speaks of "la guerra" - the war - begun by President Richard 
Nixon. He means the "war on drugs."

"It's this war that is a problem for my country," he said.

So does this lead us to legalization or decriminalization of drugs? 
It's a logical conclusion given that the black market conditions 
spurred by illegal drug use motivate the cartels and the violence.

Sicilia doesn't go there. Instead, he says, "You're a democracy." By 
this he means that democracies have discussions when policies don't 
work. He said this country needs to have that discussion.

We might talk, he said, of the number of prison inmates in this country.

Right. Texas alone accounted for nearly 137,000 arrests for drug use 
violations in 2010, says the FBI. People convicted of drug offenses 
and serving time in state prison, jail or in programs to transition 
out of incarceration accounted for 17.3 percent of all prisoners in 
Texas in fiscal year 2011, according to the state.

And then there is violence and other crime here spurred by drug use.

There has to be a better way. So says someone who is living this 
alleged "progress" in the war on drugs, someone who has lost someone 
dear to it.

Sicilia's caravan will roll into San Antonio today. Beginning at 5 
p.m. there will be a press conference, dinner and a vigil at the 
parish hall of St. Leonard's Catholic Church, 8510 S. Zarzamora St.

Maybe we all can start having that discussion.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom