By Enrique Morones (borderangels.org)
After a month on the road, bringing an inspirational message of justice and dignity to dozens of cities across the country that have been ravaged by America’s failed war on drugs and other harmful policies, the Caravan for Peace finally rolled into Washington, D.C. this past week to conclude its historic journey.
The 150-member caravan has been crisscrossing the United States since early August, sharing stories and testimonies about the pain that so many have suffered as a result of the war on drugs. Led by Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, whose son Juan Francisco was murdered in Mexico last year, the caravan’s mission is to bring attention to five critical elements affecting relations between the United States and Mexico: the failed war on drugs, money laundering, arms trafficking, the need for humane immigration policies, and building closer ties between the two countries.
The caravan is focused on opening up a dialogue on both sides of the border about these problems. “I am convinced that change will come from the bottom up of society, not from the top. If we the citizens don’t voice our concerns and pressure the politicians, nothing is going to happen,” Sicilia said.
Having previously led several successful caravans that culminated in millions of Americans taking to the streets to stop HR 4437, oust Lou Dobbs from CNN, and register thousands of voters, Border Angels is honored to be one of several groups supporting the caravan. Fostering a dialogue centered around hope and dignity is vital to solving the problems that face the United States and Mexico, and this message is one that Border Angels is proud to be a part of.
Since 2006, failed drug policies have led to an estimated 70,000 deaths in Mexico and more than 20,000 “disappearances.” For the most part, these killings are carried out by rival drug cartels with weapons from the United States as they vie for control of the billion dollar US drug market. It is important to realize that the wave of violence that has claimed so many lives in Mexico has its roots on both sides of the Rio Grande; the United States and Mexico have a shared responsibility in this conflict.
The wave of violence that has inundated Mexico in recent years also has implications for America’s immigration policies. While the economic crisis of the last six years has resulted in more undocumented migrants leaving the US than entering the country, a new group of migrants are coming to the US to escape the violence that has resulted from failed drug policies in both
These individuals venture north in hopes of finding better opportunities and safety in America. Sadly, “operation gatekeeper” has made the arduous journey around the wall the only option available for migrants to enter the country. Since 1994, more than 10,000 migrants have died crossing the treacherous deserts and mountains separating the US and Mexico.
As the United States prepares for an election in November, I encourage all Americans to listen to Sicilia’s message because only by embracing the principles of justice and dignity and learning the true toll of the war on drugs will we ever achieve peace.
Mexico may provide the deaths but the US provides the demand for the drugs and the weapons to kill the thousands of victims. Now is the time for all of us to call for an end to the war on drugs. Join us. While we still have the time. Our children are counting on us.
Enrique Morones, President/Founder Border Angels + Caravan for Peace
participant and organizer as well as Mexico’s National Human Rights Honoree