Press Conference Today: Actor Gael Garcia Bernal & Mexican Victims of Drug War Call for Stricter Gun Laws and Alternatives to Drug Prohibition
Mexico-U.S. Caravan for Peace Visiting Washington, D.C. September 10-12 to Demand an End to Failed Drug War
Poet & Time Magazine “Person of the Year” Javier Sicilia and Other Drug War Survivors From U.S. & Mexico will Conclude Cross-Country Journey on September 12 with Vigils and Marches in Washington and Cities Around the World
Washington, DC—On September 10, the Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity arrived in Washington, DC on the last stop of its 25-city journey across the United States to call for an end to the failed drug war that has devastated individuals, families, and entire communities on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.
Today, the Caravan is holding a press conference featuring actor Gael Garcia Bernal as well as the poet and activist Javier Sicilia, profiled in Time Magazine’s 2011 “Person of the Year” issue, to urge fundamental changes in drug and gun policies in order to reduce the violence in Mexico.
Who: Javier Sicilia, prominent Mexican poet who started the Movement for Peace; actor Gael Garcia Bernal, who has been recognized for his work on human rights in Mexico; family members and victims of drug war violence in Mexico; and national and local organizations that are supporting and accompanying the Caravan.
What: Press conference with prominent Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal, poet-turned-activist Javier Sicilia, and victims of violence in Mexico
When: Tuesday, September 11, 1 p.m. EST
Where: Lutheran Church of the Reformation, 212 East Capitol Street
Sicilia and others from Mexico and the United States who have lost loved ones to the drug war have led the Caravan for Peace on its journey of more than 6,000 miles through dozens of cities, including Los Angeles, Santa Fe, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, and New York . (See this Reuters video about the Caravan's New York visit.) The Caravan is a bi-national effort of more than 100 U.S. organizations – including the Drug Policy Alliance, Global Exchange, the NAACP, Presente.org, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), and the Latin America Working Group, along with more than 50 Mexican organizations demanding that the US and Mexican governments adopt a new, comprehensive strategy to address violence related to drug prohibition.
The drug war has led to more than 60,000 murders in Mexico in the last five years and incarcerated millions in the United States at a cost of over $1 trillion in the past 40 years. The Caravan's ultimate goal is to help bring an end to that war by urging alternatives to drug prohibition, sensible regulations of the U.S. gun market, and the suspension of military aid to Mexico, among other critical changes.
“We have traveled across the United States to raise awareness of the unbearable pain and loss caused by the drug war—and of the enormous shared responsibility for protecting families and communities in both our countries,” said Javier Sicilia, the poet-turned-activist and Caravan leader who galvanized the movement to end the drug war in Mexico after his son, Juan Francisco, was killed last year. “Our purpose is to honor our victims, to make their names and faces visible.”
Over the course of the past year, Sicilia’s movement—the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD)—has traveled across Mexico to some of the most dangerous areas of the country, including Ciudad Juarez and the Mexico-Guatemala border. Throughout Mexico, courageous families who have suffered drug war violence have come forward to tell their stories, often at great personal risk.
The MPJD launched the current Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity because few people in the U.S. understand the role their government plays in fueling violence in Mexico. U.S. consumption of illicit drugs stimulates drug production and trafficking in Mexico. Drug prohibition, rather than reducing drug use or supply, has created a vast and destructive illegal market that finances organized crime. The Mexican government’s strategies to combat drug trafficking, funded by the United States, have only intensified the violence while causing or contributing to gross violations of human rights. Weak regulation and lax enforcement also make the United States’ gun market a paradise for Mexican drug traffickers. Thousands of guns trafficked illegally from the United States end up arming violent drug cartels in Mexico.
“The prohibitionist strategies mandated by the U.S. government for the past forty years have wreaked havoc in Mexico, Colombia, Central America and the Caribbean, while utterly failing to reduce drug use or supply,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “The long term alternative for both our countries ultimately lies in embracing different forms of legal regulation and decriminalization of drugs.”
The Caravan is calling for the following changes:
- The exploration of alternatives to drug prohibition, including diverse forms of drug regulation and decriminalization;
- a halt to the illegal smuggling of weapons across the border to Mexico, which can be achieved without infringing on U.S. constitutional rights;
- concrete steps to combat money laundering, including holding financial institutions accountable;
- the immediate suspension of U.S. assistance to Mexico’s armed forces, and a reorientation of U.S. aid to Mexico to focus on human security and human rights; and
- an end to the militarization of the border and the criminalization of immigrants, and the adoption of policies that protect the dignity of every human being.
At each stop on its route, the Caravan has been embraced by local communities. The Caravan will officially conclude tomorrow, September 12, by calling for an International Day of Action for Peace in Mexico – which will be commemorated by marches and vigils in Washington, DC, and cities around the world.
For more information: http://www.caravanforpeace.org
About the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity: www.movimientoporlapaz.mx
Twitter: @CaravanaUSA (twitter.com/caravanaUSA)
Mail: caravanapresspass [at] movimientoporlapaz [dot] mx
Daniel Robelo, Drug Policy Alliance, 650-465-2584
Tony Newman, Drug Policy Alliance: 646-335-5384