Pubdate: Thu, 23 Aug 2012
Source: San Antonio Express-News (TX)
Copyright: 2012 San Antonio Express-News
Author: Elaine Ayala
Cited: Caravan for Peace:


Led by well-known Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, a cross-country 
caravan of anti-drug-violence pilgrims will hold a vigil Friday night 
at a San Antonio church to mourn victims of Mexico's drug war and 
focus on what they say are its root causes: American drug 
consumption, cross-border weapons trafficking, money laundering and 
U.S. aid to Mexico's army.

The Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity, formed by Mexican 
activists affected by the war, are on a U.S. tour that started in San 
Diego, Calif., and will culminate in Washington, D.C., next month, 
trying to raise a sense of shared responsibility for a conflict that 
has claimed an estimated 70,000 lives since 2006.

Sicilia, whose son was killed in drug violence last year, has led two 
similar caravans in northern and southern Mexico.

The war is being fought at the doorstep of the United States, remains 
invisible to U.S. citizens but is fueled by U.S. drug use, he said, 
speaking this week from Phoenix.

"We need to convince the United States that it's a bigger issue, that 
what we're suffering through is not just our problem but theirs, 
too," Sicilia said

Well-received by Latino communities, the caravan's challenge is to 
reach a larger U.S. audience, "so we're not just talking among 
ourselves," he said.

Sicilia was critical of smugglers moving guns bought in the United 
States into Mexico, as well as U.S. aid to the Mexican army. Both 
have made the border a war zone, while immigrants are caught in the 
crossfire, he said.

The use of drugs can be decriminalized, just as the manufacture of 
alcohol was after Prohibition, Sicilia said.

However, he referred to it as drug "regulation" and refused to use 
the word "legalization."

San Antonians affected by Mexico's drug war will be part of the 
vigil, too. Alejandro Siller, who's coordinating the San Antonio leg 
of the caravan, for example, said his niece's car was sprayed with bullets.

Another distant relative was kidnapped and killed, he said.

"They're so afraid," Siller said of relatives in Mexico. "They listen 
to grenades and hear the ambulances. Then they wait for the tanks 
with pressurized water to clean up the blood from the streets."

"Most of the solution is in the United States," he said, pointing to 
"corruption in the United States and Mexico that allows money 
laundering" for cartels.

While some are able to escape violence, others don't have the 
resources to flee and remain unprotected by their government, Siller said.

About 125 people are part of the caravan. Siller hopes to fill the 
parish hall of St. Leonard's Catholic Church at 8510 S. Zarzamora 
St., where a 5 p.m. news conference will be followed by a 6 p.m. 
supper. Presentations begin at 7 p.m. followed by a vigil.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom