On Sunday, August 12th, he long journey begins at the border between the US and Mexico, South of San Diego, with plans to arrive in Washington DC on September 12. The Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity was concieved by Mexican poet Javier Sicilia when his son died in the crossfire of the "war on drugs" several months ago. In June, the caravan crossed Mexico with the goal of raising public awareness of the failed "war on drugs".
"It's a war that no longer distinguishes. Any Mexican can be assassinated, can be a victim of crime or repression," said Sicilia.
Annually, more than a billion dollars from the US fuels this effort while problems multiply.
Sicilia has already met with the infamous Sheriif Joe Arpaio, who had no choice but to welcome the poet when the Caravan arrived in Maricopa County, Arizona. Sicilia insisted that the sheriff should work to stop the export of extermination, and while the sheriff held old position.
But Arpaio was the only intractable contact thus far on this journey - the Caravan is carrying a legislative agenda which has been heard and passed in at least 2 city councils so far - anti drug war resolutions have been passed in both Los Angeles and El Paso just this week.
On Saturday, the Caravan for Peace went shopping for guns at a show in Albuquerque, New Mexico. They learned that it takes less than 5 minutes to buy an AK-47. After a quick police check just provide proof that's you're a resident of the state, and for US$1200 you can head out with an AK-47 over your shoulder. One of the goals of the Caravan for Peace is to stop the flow of weapons from the US to Mexico. But the gun dealers advised Sicilia that he might need a gun for protection in Mexico. "We come for peace, and they sell us war", he quipped.
Today, the Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity visits the DEA office in El Paso. I wish them well, but this is merely a symbolic gesture. This year the DEA will suffer yet another in a long series of budget cuts, by US$38 Million, down to a total of US$2 Billion. By contrast, so-called "anti-terrorist" efforts within the Department of Justice are asking for another $88 Billion this year, and will get it. The US does indeed fuel the deadly war in Mexico with approximately US$1 Billion annually, funneled through various government agencies. This would amount to half of the current DEA budget, which in the past year has been used mostly against state-sanctioned medical marijuana clinics, contrary to a campaign promise from our current president.
As the Caravan for Peace and Justice with Dignity makes it's way across the us, expect to see some changes.
Their goal is to arrive in Washington DC on September 12th. The original Caravan in Mexico last year made it's final stop in Mexico City. Then Javier Sicilia and President Felipe Calderón sat down together, and Sicilia showed him the hopeful faces of drug war survivors, who carry the burden of 60,000 dead.
The caravan will stop in at least 20 cities along the way, including Fort Benning Georgia. At every step of the way, they carry their legislative agenda, and are ready to sit down and work to make change happen.
You can follow their progress online, or make arrangement to meet them here:
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