The Mexico/USA trans-border "Caravan for Peace and Justice" led by poet and peace leader Javier Sicilia arrived in San Antonio as part of a 2 week journey across the United States.
"You can light a candle and see your way out of the darkness, or be enveloped by evil". This was just one of the many prophetic words spoken by Javier Sicilia, founder and leader of the Caravan for Peace as he spoke in San Antonio, TX this afternoon.
Sicilia’s son, Juan Francisco was murdered along with six friends a year and a half ago. He has since become an inspirational voice for peace, justice and reform. He spoke today with a call for change in the bi-national policies that have inflamed a six-year Drug War which has claimed lives and devastated human rights on both sides of the US and Mexican border.
With the support of over 100 non profit and grassroots organizations, including the NAACP, The Drug Policy Alliance and Presente.org, the caravans movement is that of peace and solidarity amongst the governments of the United States and Mexico.
Accompanied by over 50 individuals from Columbia, Mexico and the United States who have been directly affected by the violence resulting from drugs and drug traffickers, the Caravan and its followers tell grim stories of violence and government corruption.
Baena Lopez, the 19 year old daughter of Margarita Lopez Perez, was taken from her home in Guajaca, Mexico by armed militants over a year ago. Desperate pleas to the Mexican and US governments got her nowhere, having spent a great amount of her own money to locate her daughter. Finally, in September of 2011 she was told her daughter's body had been found beheaded in a mass grave. If not for the help of the Caravan, she never would have found her daughter, through DNA and dental records provided by the FBI. Just one of the over 60,000 people killed and 10,000 who have disappeared since 2006, her daughters senseless death represents the pain and suffering caused by illegal drug trafficking.
Robert Lovato, co founder of Presente.org, the nation's largest online Latino advocacy organization and involved with the Caravan since its inception, states "We need to find a solution with a multinational approach. Countries like Chile and Mexico have always asked the Unite States for help, yet the US had taken the position of turning a blind eye to the drug problem. To start, the banning of the sale of assault rifles in Texas and Arizona could reduce cross border arms trafficking, resulting in a reduction of deaths".
Daniel Robelo of the Drug Policy Alliance agrees, saying that "No one is dying in the United States over the sale of alcohol and tobacco, as young people have greater access to illegal drugs via non-regulation, as is the case with liquor and cigarettes."
Javier Sicilia says the solution to the problem begins with poetry and understanding. He says there is a "light in the darkness" and one just has to choose to follow it. As the Caravan continues its journey across the United States the hope is that this message will touch everyone, from the streets of the inner cities, to the politicians within the Nation's capitol.