Caravan of Peace attracts attention to the victims of the drug war

“The powers that be were trying to tell us that all those who were dying were just criminals, just cockroaches. We had to change that mind-set and put names to the victims for a change. And that meant the criminal dead as well as the innocent dead ... We also have to focus on the poverty and the lack of economic opportunity that helps breed the criminality.” - Javier Scilia

Yesterday, a coalition of activist and social justice groups began a “Caravan for Peace With Justice and Dignity." Caravan members aim to give a voice and attract attention to the families of the victims of the violence in Mexico by publicising the real costs of the war on drugs in turn calling for a re-examination of drug policy in both Mexico and the U.S.

To mark the movement of the caravan, over the next month we will feature a series of special blogs with our latest Count the Cost partner, the Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos, (Mexican Commission for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights). We will detail a number of real-life case studies from some of the Mexican victims. We hope, in line with the aims of the caravan, this will help to put faces to the victims and expose the very real costs being experienced in Mexico today. All of the stories that will be featured call into question the suitability of our current drug laws, emphasizing the extreme human rights abuses being committed in its name, and highlight the urgent need to explore an alternative approach.

About the Caravan

The caravan began yesterday at the San Diego/Tijuana border and the group will now spend a month travelling over 5,000 miles through 25 cities - including Los Angeles, Santa Fe, El Paso, Houston, Montgomery, New Orleans, Chicago, and New York -- before arriving in Washington DC on September 10. On September 12, they plan to organize an “International Day of Action for Peace in Mexico” before disbanding. The movement, led by Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, whose son Juan Francisco was killed in drug war related violence last year, is calling for an end to the US led War on Drugs, which has resulted in over 70,000 Mexican deaths and the imprisonment of 500,000 Americans for nonviolent drug offenses.

In an article in the Huffington Post last Friday Scilia stated:

“The War on Drugs is an unspeakable failure. The twenty-three million drug users in America, far from diminishing in number, only increase. Mexico in the last five years has accumulated more than 70,000 deaths, more than 20,000 disappeared, more than a quarter million displaced, tens of thousands of widows and orphans. American gun manufacturers funnel weapons for this conflict via illegal networks as well as legal structures like Plan Mérida, which arms the Mexican military. American prisons hold millions for merely consuming drugs. Migrants are criminalized on this side of the border or extorted or disappeared on the other, and the temptation to militarize, to resort to the tactics of a police state, arises on both sides, placing democracy and the grand ideal of an open society in a profound crisis.”

Groups joining the caravan include, amongst others, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Global Exchange, the Drug Policy Alliance, and the Mexican Movement for Peace with Justice & Dignity.

Please follow this blog over the next few weeks to hear the real lifestories from some of the victims in Mexico.

To find out more about the broader human rights atrocities being committed in the name of the War on Drugs please visit http://www.countthecosts.org/seven-costs/undermining-human-rights