Saturday, September 01, 2012

Drug Wars: Caravan for Peace Raises the Voices of Drug War Victims

Source: Open Society Foundations

Caravan for Peace Raises the Voices of Drug War Victims

August 31, 2012 by Chelsea Brown Global Drug Policy Program, U.S. Programs

The Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity, which began its cross-country journey across the United States on August 12, is a bi-national effort to bring attention to the victims of Mexico’s drug war and call for change in failed U.S. and Mexican policies towards arms, drugs, and national security.

“Our purpose is to honor our victims, to make their names and faces visible,” said poet Javier Sicilia, who is travelling with the Caravan.

In the first half of its tour, the Caravan proceeded from the Tijuana/San Diego border through “papers, please” Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. In these border states, the Caravan focused on the impact of the militarization of drug law enforcement, as well as on the parallel criminalization and persecution of undocumented immigrants. The testimonies and speeches sought to further public understanding that U.S. is financing and arming both sides of the war in Mexico—and scores of civilians are caught in the crossfire.

“We will travel across the United States to raise awareness of the unbearable pain and loss caused by the drug war—and of the enormous shared responsibility for protecting families and communities in both our countries,” added Sicilia, whose 24-year-old son was murdered by drug traffickers.

Departing Houston, the Caravan left the formerly Mexican territory of the United States, and is now crossing the history-laden South, stopping in Jackson, Montgomery, and Atlanta. Traversing sacred grounds of civil rights struggles, the Caravan has explored the sinister historical roots of the war on drugs and its impact on African American communities. Just as the dead in Mexico are posthumously criminalized, dismissed as being “involved” in the drug trade, the stigma of a felony drug offense is used to explain away the incarceration, disenfranchisement, and deaths of thousands of African Americans.

The drug war has been used as a convenient excuse to marginalize and oppress the poor and people of color. The Caravan for Peace, however, promulgates that no human is dispensable, that the deaths and disappearances of sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters cannot possibly be justified by a war driven by greed and ideology.

In the next phase of its journey, the Caravan will head north to Chicago, Cleveland, New York, and Baltimore, before arriving in Washington, D.C. on September 10 to deliver its final, resounding message to North America: stop the drug war.