Pubdate: Tue, 11 Sep 2012
Source: Latin American Herald-Tribune (Venezuela)
Copyright: 2012 Latin American Herald-Tribune


WASHINGTON - The Caravan for Peace arrived in Washington, the last 
stop on its tour of the United States, during which families of the 
victims of violence on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border have 
marked "an end and a beginning" with their condemnation of the war on drugs.

After traveling more than 10,000 kilometers (6,000 miles) and 
stopping in 26 cities, the 110 participants in the caravan led by 
Mexican poet Javier Sicilia arrived in the United States capital.

"This is an end and a beginning," Sicilia said at an event organized 
by the AFL-CIO to welcome the caravan to Washington.

"We come from afar bringing to the heart of this country all the 
horror of this useless, lost war," said Sicilia, who in March 2011 
lost his son Juan Francisco to the violence of organized crime.

Conflict among rival cartels and between the traffickers and the 
security forces has claimed some 60,000 lives in Mexico since 
December 2006, when newly inaugurated President Felipe Calderon - 
whose term ends Nov. 30 - militarized the struggle against the drug trade.

Against the "absurd" policy of the war on drugs, the Caravan for 
Peace called for an approach based on legalizing drugs, enforcing gun 
control and prosecuting money laundering.

"Drugs are not a matter of national security, but of public health," 
Sicilia told Efe, recalling that the violence sparked by the illegal 
trafficking of narcotics "has killed more innocent people than drugs 
could ever have killed over decades and centuries."

One of the activists accompanying him is Teresa Vera Alvarado, whose 
sister Minerva went missing in 2006 in the southern Mexican state of 
Oaxaca. After years of fruitless searching, Vera joined the caravan 
"to help all the other people who are mourning a loss."

"We come to raise authorities' awareness in both countries so they do 
their job, because very often they make fun of us, they say they're 
investigating the matter and they're not," Vera told Efe.

The caravanners continued to spread their message on a march from the 
White House to Freedom Plaza in Washington, and were to continue 
Tuesday with meetings in 27 offices of Congress and with Mexican 
ambassador Arturo Sarukhan.

Throughout their journey around the United States, their message has 
taken on elements of the immigration problem, since the war on drugs 
has led to "criminalizing immigrants," Sicilia said.

The war on drugs "is opening the way to authoritarian states," the 
poet-turned-crusader said in an interview with Efe.

With his trek from Tijuana to Washington, Sicilia believes he has 
started an "unprecedented process" that both citizens of Mexico and 
the United States share, the realization that "declaring war on drugs 
in absurd."

"Every day we're on the point of losing our democracy. We're not only 
losing our children, which is the most tragic part of it, but we're 
opening the way to authoritarian states with this absurd logic. This 
war has killed more innocent people than drugs could ever have killed 
over decades and centuries," he said. EFE
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom