Pubdate: Tue, 28 Aug 2012
Source: Prospector, The (TX Edu)
Author: Kristopher Rivera


The Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity, lead by Mexican poet 
and writer Javier Sicilia, made a stop in El Paso Aug. 20 to bring 
awareness to the brutality of the ongoing drug war in Mexico and to 
push U.S. local, state and national authorities to include this topic 
in their political agendas.

The caravan was welcomed by dozens of El Paso activists and 
supporters in search of a solution to the drug war.

"We can't separate ourselves from Mexico," said Josiah Heyman, chair 
and professor of anthropology. "There's no question that there's a 
whole bunch of things that Mexico needs to do that are Mexico's 
responsibility in terms of their criminal justice system, their legal 
system, their political system, but there's a bunch of things the 
United States needs to do."

Mexico has a 98 percent rate of impunity, which means the odds of a 
criminal being caught or arrested would be two percent, according to 
the caravan coordinators.

Heyman volunteered to be part of the organizing committee for the 
Caravan as it travels through the U.S. He specifically worked on the 
five key resolutions on the U.S. side public policies such as the 
need to stop gun trafficking, the need to debate alternatives to drug 
prohibition, the need for better tools to combat money laundering, 
the need to promote bilateral cooperation in human rights and safety 
for migrants.

"We're by far the largest market for illegal drugs. We make cartel's 
profits," Heyman said. "It's not just a drug trade, it's also a gun 
trade and the guns go from the U.S. to Mexico. The stuff goes both directions."

Nubia Legarda, senior multidisciplinary studies major, said there's 
urgency for the public to be aware and conscious of what role the 
U.S. plays in Mexico's drug war.

"There's too much blood being shed and both countries have a role, or 
play a part in that," Legarda said. "So I feel like what (the Caravan 
for Peace is) doing right now is really important because we do need 
to stop the flow of guns south and drugs north."

According to statistics released by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, 
Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, more than 68,000 firearms seized in 
Mexico from 2001 to 2007 originated from the United States.

"The money goes in both directions, and there's corruption in both 
countries," Heyman said. "The corruption plays itself out in very 
different ways, but there's lots of corruption. So the United States 
has a lot of things we can do that are in our own interest that will 
reduce harm to people that will reduce corruption, that will reduce 
criminality in the United States so it's in our interest."

According to a 2009 Justice Department report, $39 billion of 
wholesale profit makes its way south annually.

According to the Caravan for Peace, over the past six years there 
have been 160,000 internal refugees in Mexico. Many others migrate to 
the U.S. looking for better economic opportunities, but now the main 
goal is escaping the nightmare.

Oscar Morales, sociology graduate student and secretary of Miners 
Without Borders, came to the U.S. with his family because of the 
dangerous conditions that exist in Juarez.

"(Being) a person affected by the violence directly makes him a very 
powerful third party person with this organization because, 
especially with the elections in Mexico, there's a possibility of 
change in the policies," Morales said. "So I think it's very 
important that they hold people accountable for their promise, 
especially in regards to security and basically change the tactics 
that the Mexican government has had, because not only does that 
affect the people that live in Mexico, but the families that live in 
the United States that have family in Mexico."

Since visiting El Paso, the Caravan has made stops in Laredo, San 
Antonio, Austin, Houston, New Orleans and is currently in Jacksonville, Miss.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom