During symbolic visit to “Tent City” jail, Poet Javier Sicilia and other Mexican victims of war on drugs to condemn inhumane practices of Joe Arpaio, longtime drug war enforcer and anti-immigrant sheriff</p>
On third stop of cross-country journey, Caravan expresses its solidarity with those incarcerated and demands an end to drug war that has resulted in more than 60,000 killed and 10,000 disappeared in Mexico</p>
Phoenix, Arizona – Today the “Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity” will visit Maricopa County’s notorious “Tent City” jail to denounce the criminalization and inhumane treatment of immigrants and people who use drugs.
Led by Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, the Caravan will condemn the dehumanizing practices of Joe Arpaio, the infamous anti-immigrant sheriff and former DEA agent, who has made enforcing the failed prohibition of drugs a centerpiece of his career.
Sicilia, together with other victims of the drug war from both Mexico and the US, are in Phoenix on the third stop of their cross-country journey to bring an end to the disastrous drug war that has left more than 60,000 dead in Mexico in the last five years.
A press conference will be held immediately following the Caravan’s visit to Tent City, in which Caravan participants, together with local and national community leaders, will express their solidarity with those incarcerated in the jail – often under degrading and dangerous conditions. Many of the people held in Tent City are incarcerated for non-violent drug and immigration offenses.
What: Press Conference
When: Thursday, August 16, 10:30 AM
Where: Tent City; Durango and 31st Ave, Phoenix, Arizona
Participants: Javier Sicilia, MPJD; Carlos Garcia, Director, Puente Movement; Marco Castillo, President, Migrant Families' Popular Assembly; Elizabeth Muñoz, Migrant Activist; Xóchitl Espinosa, Operations & Program Manager, National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC); and Jack Cole, Retired Police Lieutenant & Co-Founder of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).
Javier Sicilia emerged as a leader of Mexico’s Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD) after his son, Juan Francisco, was killed in senseless prohibition-related violence last year. Since then, the MPJD has undertaken similar caravans across Mexico to collect stories of the destruction caused by the war against drugs and organized crime. Through these caravans, victims have expressed in their own voices the drug war’s devastating consequences.
“This movement brings together activists from both of our countries to shed light on the policies that have failed our families, neighbors, and nations,” stated Javier Sicilia. “United, we will raise our voices to call for an end to a war on drugs that allows entire communities to become casualties, and we will demand a shift in attention to poverty and the lack of economic opportunity that helps breed the criminality.”
Since 2006, Mexico has experienced unprecedented pain: more than 60,000 people have been killed and more than 10,000 have disappeared in violence largely due to the failure of drug prohibition. Rather than curbing drug use or supply, prohibition has enriched violent traffickers, armed with illegal weapons and sustained by laundered money, both of which flow into Mexico from the U.S. unabated. Among the many innocent victims are an increasing number of immigrants—placed in danger because the routes of immigration, arms smuggling and drug trafficking often overlap.
The drug war has produced painful consequences in the United States as well, especially the mass incarceration of non-violent people – overwhelming blacks and Latinos. Bringing together victims of the drug war from both countries, the Caravan aims to expose the root causes of violence in Mexico, to raise awareness about the effects of the drug war on communities in the U.S., and to inspire U.S. civil society to demand new policies that will foster peace, justice and human dignity on both sides of the border.
More specifically, the Caravan calls for: the exploration of alternatives to drug prohibition, including the regulation and decriminalization of drugs, and the adoption of policies that protect the dignity of migrants. The Caravan also urges policies to curb the flow of arms and laundered money, and the termination of US military aid to the Mexican armed forces.
Over 100 U.S. organizations* are a part of the Caravan coalition, including Puente Movement, the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), National Latino Congreso, Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), Latin America Working Group (LAWG), Border Angels / Angeles de la Frontera, CIP-Americas Program, Presente.org, Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), Students for a Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), Veterans for Peace, Witness for Peace, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Hermandad Mexicana Transnacional, School of the Americas Watch, and Global Exchange.
Also participating are: Alianza Cívica, Sin Fronteras, INEDIM, Fuerzas Unidas por los Desaparecidos en México, Asociación Popular de Familiares de Migrantes (APOFAM), FUNDEM; Red por los Derechos de la Infancia, CuPIDH, Espolea, Reverdecer, Iniciativa Ciudadana para la Promoción de la Cultura de Diálogo, Pastoral de Movilidad Humana, Alarbo, Servicios para la Paz, Serapaz; and Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social (Cencos), and many more.
* Supporting organizations do not necessarily endorse all of the Caravan’s policy positions.
About the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity: www.movimientoporlapaz.mx
Twitter: @CaravanaUSA (twitter.com/caravanaUSA)