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Caravan Brings Drug

Debate To The U.S.

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Many of those who met the Caravan For Peace in Phoenix expressed solidarity with both the U.S. and Mexico.
The Trans-Border Caravan For Peace And Justice Begins Trek Across The U.S., Brings A Diverse Collection Of Voices Against War On Drugs

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By John Guzzon
Modern Times Magazine

Aug. 20, 2012 — Over the past six years, it is estimated that more than 22 people in Mexico are killed each and every day thanks to the ever-escalating drug war.

That is nearly 700 people a month.

Men, women and children.

On top of those verifiably killed are the “disappeared” — estimated at 10,000 since 2006.

But the deaths and killings that are a byproduct of the drug war do not exist solely south of the border between the U.S. and Mexico. Thousands more are also killed each year in the United States, although exact statistics are unknown since such statistics are not compiled.

U.S. prisons, though, are verifiably brimming with drug-crime inmates. The U.S. Census Bureau recently released data from 2006 that shows 33 percent of those convicted of felonies in state and county courts in the U.S. were tried on drug charges. And, that 45 percent of that 33 percent were charged with felony possession.

The only reasonable conclusion from such statistics must be that both sides of the border are overflowing with traffickers, offenders and users.

Simply, the drug war has been spiraling out of control for quite some time.

But while the U.S. remains resolute in the mission to continue the “war on drugs” both politically and financially, Latin America is engaging in an active, mainstream debate over whether it is simply smarter to stop fighting losing battles — and therefore the war on drugs.

Fringe groups are not the sole sources supporting and empowering this debate. Heads of state throughout the region are calling for drug-crime reform including those in Mexico, Ecuador, Guatemala and Uruguay, among others.

President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto of Mexico has stated he will begin a dialog about legalization in alliance with many leaders throughout Latin America.

“I’m in favor of opening a new debate in the strategy in the way we fight drug trafficking. It is quite clear that, after several years of this fight against drug trafficking, we have more drug consumption, drug use and drug trafficking. That means we are not moving in the right direction. Things are not working,” Pena Nieto said on the PBS Newshour last month.

But grassroots organizations are also ringing the bell for the end of prohibition and the war against drugs.

The Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, or MPJD, led by Mexican poet turned activist Javier Sicilia, has brought this debate to the United States — including a stop in Phoenix Aug. 15 — by way of the Trans-border Caravan for Peace and Justice.

Visit the Caravan for Peace And Justice website

The goal of the caravan — which began Aug. 12 in San Diego and will eventually travel through several southern U.S. states before making its way to Chicago, New York and Washington — is to create awareness about drug violence, weapons trafficking and trans-border issues such as migration and money laundering.

The caravan features Sicilia and a troop of Mexican nationals and others from Latin America who lost members of their family to drug-related violence. They relate the stories of loss and heartache that are increasingly common throughout the world.

“I want to tell you that on May 30, 2011 my daughter disappeared. She just went out to get some food and now it has been a year and four months since she has been gone. My life is broken. I do not know what happened and the authorities have done nothing to find her,” said Leticia Mora, a member of the traveling caravan. “The same thing has happened to many other young women. There are thousands of young women who have disappeared and there are many cases that have not been solved. I come in a caravan looking for justice and dignity. We are looking for doors to be opened.”

While in the U.S. the approach to missing young women would translate into supporting an escalation of military and law enforcement actions against heavily armed traffickers, Sicilia cites the Merida Initiative — a U.S.-funded regional plan to battle drug cartels and other transnational criminal networks — as prime example of how guns and money will not solve the drug scourge.

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