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Mexican Poet Javier Sicilia Leads U.S. Peace Caravan: Will Americans Wake Up to Our "Absurd" Drug War's Blood Trail?

One of Mexico’s best-known poets, Javier Sicilia, laid down his pen last year after his son was murdered by drug traffickers. Now, he is on a mission to transform drug policy.

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AMY GOODMAN: Our condolences on the death of your son, Juan Francisco. Tell us what happened to him on March 28th, just about a year ago, 2011.

JAVIER SICILIA: [translated] One of the strategies of President Calderón has been to leave the cartels headless, which makes that nobody controls the thugs, the people who are left there. So the thugs, the gangsters, took control over all the bars and restaurants and little shops.

One of my son’s friends, he was a designer. And the night before, he had been robbed. His work material, his cameras were stolen. So they went to see the manager of the bar the next day to claim about the robbery. He was kidnapped. And they called the gangster who controls the area, and he says he killed them, because they would go to the police if you leave them free. The manager said, "No, we are not here to steal people, to rob people." So the owner says—the owner of the place and the son says, "I have $300,000 in pesos, Mexican pesos, here, and three bands. Take them and—but kill them." And so he kills them.

And there is no security. Where was the police? Where was the army? Nobody was there. In Mexico, there is a 98 percent of impunity, which means if we were here, if this was Mexico, we were in Mexico right now, and we killed someone here, the odds of being caught and arrested would be 2 percent. Nothing.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: About a year ago, we had on the show Jorge Castañeda, a former member of the administration of Vicente Fox, and we asked him about the war in Mexico, and he said it was basically—the drug war—that it was basically confined to a couple of provinces or states in Mexico, but was not a general problem for the whole country.

JAVIER SICILIA: [translated] It’s not just a national problem, because our country is completely Balkanized, divided and obliterated, but also it’s a problem of the United States for people. The war was created by the United States to protect their addict people. Drug consumption is a health issue and an issue of freedom. The person who decides to consume drugs, to use drugs, it’s their decision, and they hurt themselves.

AMY GOODMAN: We have one minute left here on the show. Why are you in the United States?

JAVIER SICILIA: [translated] I am here because of that, because on top of everything, the guns are legalized in the United States, and who he has who possesses a gun, it’s not like consuming drugs. It kills the other person, not just himself. These guns are getting into the country from the United States—legally, to have the army armed, and illegally, to have the drug cartels with guns. We want to put this in the consciousness of the United States, the government of the United States and the candidates to the presidency.

AMY GOODMAN: We have to wrap here, but we’re going to continue the discussion after the show, and we’re going to post it online at democracynow.org. Javier Sicilia, poet, essayist, novelist, journalist in Mexico, leading a caravan of Mexican anti-violence protesters, began speaking out after his 24-year-old son was brutally murdered by drug traffickers in March of 2011, being honored tonight byNACLA, the North American Congress on Latin America.


Amy Goodman is the host of the nationally syndicated radio news program, Democracy Now! .