Global Exchange Executive Director, Carleen Pickard is blogging from the road as she travels with the Caravan for Peace through the (very hot) state of Texas.

The Caravan for Peace consists of two full size buses carrying the caravanistas across the United States and, to date, one RV.

The RV looks funny tailing the buses wrapped with the Caravan for Peace banner and the Movimiento Por la Paz dove that has become iconic to the movement, because it’s one of those CruiseAmerica vans that clog campgrounds and National Parks every summer and are typically viewed as greedy, gas guzzling monsters contributing to climate change.

The buses make sense. The Caravan for Peace is itself meant to be a spectacle – our branding is visible and proud and at each rest stop or restaurant we offload and talk to anyone and everyone about our travel and our mission. The victims from Mexico spend time together, with U.S. riders and Mexicans and U.S. media, giving lots of time for coverage. Their solidarity with each other grows each day and people’s good-night hugs grow stronger when we get split up into home stays.

But even I’ve been thinking – an RV? Really?

I boarded our RV monster at 5am today (Wednesday) and for the next 10 hours en route from El Paso to Laredo, TX I’ve thought very carefully about its service to the Caravan for Peace.  As I’m part of the Committee in charge of the overall finances, I need to be mindful about it’s cost versus benefit to the Caravan. Can we keep it? Should we keep it?

Firstly, it’s used as a ‘peace room’. Organizers meet en route and review the day’s agenda, make changes to the schedule, come up with new ideas for actions as we approach cities and pieces fall into place (look out, Houston!). Reviews are also done of the previous days, so that we are sure to take our new experiences forward.

Javier Sicilia giving a mobile interview

For example, this morning we talked about the City Council meeting in El Paso yesterday, thought through the presentations by Javier and  Ruben Garcia of Annunciation House, and agreed we can be a little more clever in our messaging at the next opportunity to speak to elected officials.

Second, it acts as Javier’s mobile interview room. There is never a moment – even while we are en route – without a reporter around and the RV acts as a quiet(ish) place to conduct an interview. After addressing the crowd in El Paso on Monday night, Javier was swarmed by reporters and could barely make it back to the RV.

Third, over and above the organizing and the planning, we organizers are learning too.

Gas pump for the RV!

This morning Oscar Chacon of National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC) in Chicago talked through his vision of the Caravan ‘planting a seed’ for the future of successful progressive organizing, building on his decades of experience organizing immigrant Latino communities. Roberto Lovato of supported our media strategy planning, advising on the delicate line to tell victims’ stories, but not exploit the story for the purpose of ‘getting the hit’. He later, and somewhat privately, takes Javier aside and records an interview with him about his poetry. And Janice Gallagher – an amazing woman leading most of the logistical planning for the Movimiento por la Paz continues to blaze our path forward, modeling calm and dedicated organizing.

So, I’m not sure. Do we keep this beast, which does provide a decent mobile meeting and interview space, and some solace between city stops? We’ll see.


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Lend Your Support: Donations are still being accepted to help fund this important trip. Will you give?