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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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 One of Mexico’s best-known poets, Javier Sicilia, laid down his pen last year after his 24-year-old son was murdered by drug traffickers in Cuernavaca, Mexico. In his son’s memory, Sicilia created the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity to urge an end to the drug violence — violence that has left an estimated 60,000 dead, 10,000 disappeared, and more than 160,000 Mexicans displaced from their homes over the past six years. Sicilia is now in the United States to launch a month-long peace caravan to "bring to the American people’s conscience their shared responsibility for the thousands of dead, missing and displaced in the drug war." [includes rush transcript]

Javier Sicilia, poet, essayist, novelist and journalist in Mexico. He is leading a caravan of Mexican anti-violence protesters. Sicilia began speaking out after his 24-year-old son was brutally murdered by drug traffickers in early 2011. He is being honored tonight in New York by the North American Congress on Latin America.

Rush transcript: 

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We end our show today with one of Mexico’s best-known poets, Javier Sicilia. But he is a poet who no longer writes poetry. Sicilia laid down his pen last year after his 24-year-old son, Juan Francisco, was murdered by drug traffickers in Cuernavaca, Mexico. In his son’s memory, Sicilia created the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity to urge an end to the drug violence—violence that has left an estimated 60,000 people dead, 10,000 disappeared, and more than 160,000 Mexicans displaced from their homes over the past six years.

AMY GOODMAN: Javier Sicilia is here in the United States to launch a month-long peace caravan this August. The caravan will traverse California to Washington, D.C., to, quote, "bring to the American people’s conscience their shared responsibility for the thousands of dead, missing and displaced in the drug war."

Javier Sicilia led a similar caravan across Mexico last June, which attracted so much attention, Mexican President Felipe Calderón agreed to meet with him and other relatives of drug violence victims. Sicilia’s efforts to legalize the drug trade is at odds with Calderón’s efforts, but they both agree the United States, the world’s largest market for illegal drugs, must do more to curb consumption. This is President Calderón speaking at the Americas Summit last month.

PRESIDENT FELIPE CALDERÓN: Consumer countries, generally the United States, should make a bigger effort to reduce consumption, and consequently the extraordinary flow of economic resources that goes into the hands of the criminals.

AMY GOODMAN: At the Americas Summit, Obama expressed willingness to hold a discussion on drug policy, but said legalization could lead to greater problems. He instead announced more than $130 million in aid for increasing security and pursuing narco-traffickers and drug cartels in the region.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: For more on the ongoing drug war and upcoming peace caravan, we’re joined by Javier Sicilia. Time Magazine included his profile in its 2012 Person of the Year issue dedicated to protesters around the world. He’ll be translated by Malú Huacuja del Toro.

Javier Sicilia, welcome to Democracy Now!

JAVIER SICILIA: [translated] Thank you so much for receiving me.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Tell us about the impact of this war on the Mexican people.

JAVIER SICILIA: [translated] It’s an absurd war. Drugs are not a national security issue, they are a health, public health issue. Turning that, turning a health public issue into a national security issue has created a war, an absurd war that has killed many people, like 60,000 dead, and we don’t even know how many disappeared people, 250,000 displaced people, 8,000 orphans, and a divided country and obliterated. And the use of drugs, illegal drugs, in the United States has not [gone] down in any sense.