Mexico’s Caravan for Peace to Arrive in Chicago
Xotchitl Espinosa, operations and program manager of the National Alliance for Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC) speaks during a press conference welcoming the Caravan for Peace on Friday, August 30, 2012.
The Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity, a bi-national coalition traveling 6,000 miles across the country to focus attention on the failed policies of the Mexican war on drugs, will arrive in Chicago tomorrow Sept. 2 to highlight the local implications the war is having in communities around the city.
Started in San Diego, the Caravan for Peace has traveled throughout the country holding a series of community events, dialogues and press conferences with the objective of initiating a transnational debate and discourse to bring an end to the war on drugs.
In Chicago, community organizations, along with faith-based groups have organized three days of discourse, including a peace march in Little Village, and community dialogues and exchanges around the city.
“The main objective of the caravan is to humanize public debate and policies that affect all human beings including immigrants. The policies behind the war on drugs, as well as the policies against anti-immigrant laws come from the same logic of militarization, punishment and criminalization,” said Xotchitl Espinosa, operations and program manager of the National Alliance for Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC), one of the local host organizations participating in the Caravan for Peace.
Since August 12, 2012, a group composed of over 80 victims of violence and the drug war, movement organizers and journalists has been on a voyage to connect the rise of organized crime in Mexico with the criminalization, incarceration and marginalization of African-Americans and Latinos in the U.S.
According to the Caravan for Peace, the war on drugs has left more than 60,000 dead in Mexico in the last six years and resulted in over 500,000 Americans behind bars for drug offenses—Latinos and African-Americans are vastly overrepresented among those arrested.
“The war on drugs is a failure. War on drugs worldwide is the most effective way to put more drugs uncontrolled and unregulated everywhere,” said James Gierach, acting chairman of the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).
At the forefront of the caravan is Mexican poet Javier Sicilia whose son, Juan Francisco, was murdered along with six friends by drug cartel gunmen in Cuernavaca in March 2011. Since then, Sicilia has worked to spread the words of peace, justice and reform in Mexico through his organization Mexican Movement for Peace and Justice with Dignity (MMPJD), which seeks to put names and faces to those murdered, disappeared and displaced by the war on drug violence.
The caravan will continue traveling throughout the United States until Sept. 12, where it will culminate in Washington D.C. on International Day of Action.
“We are asking not only for community members to come together and rally around solidarity but rally around unity to work together to address this issue as working class people and to come out with a unified solutions for our city, for our political officials and for those that represent us in the city format,” said Alma Montes, community organizer at Network for Revolutionary Change.
The Caravan for Peace will hold a program from Sunday, Sept. 2 through Tuesday, Sept. 4 including a community dialogue at the National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W. 19th St. from 12 to 4 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 3, that will culminate with a peace march at the Little Village Arch at 26th Street and Albany at 5 p.m.
For more information about the Caravan for Peace schedule in Chicago visit www.caravanforpeace.org/caravan