Right now, the family of Ricardo Lagunes Gasca and representatives of Antonio Díaz Valencia are in Washington DC, meeting with policy makers and the international diplomatic community to push for answers and to demand accountability.

Ricardo Lagunes Gasca, a human rights and Indigenous territories lawyer, and Professor Antonio Díaz Valencia, the leader of the Nahua Indigenous community of San Miguel de Aquila, Michoacán, Mexico, were victims of enforced disappearance on January 15, 2023 for successfully defending Indigenous rights in courts.

They violently disappeared after participating in a community assembly discussing the next steps after winning the case. There are allegations that both received threats from Ternium, the company operating the Aquila mine – a company that has received scrutiny for its blatant disregard of Indigenous rights in the region.

Unfortunately, the plight of Ricardo and Antonio is far from unusual in the region. Between 2002 and 2023, 96 environmental defenders and 62 Indigenous Rights activists have disappeared.

Since their disappearance, Ricardo’s relatives have been demanding a full investigation from the United Nations Committee on Enforced Disappearances and Inter-American Commission.

Ana Lucía and Antoine Lagunes Gasca, Ricardo’s siblings, are visiting Washington D.C. this week, from November 8 to 11, for a meeting with the U.S. State Department’s Task Force of Environmental defenders, a private hearing with the Inter-American Commission, the Office of the High Commissioner and the Mexican Government, and with several allies.

They are seeking support from the international community and international organizations to advocate for the return of both defenders and achieve international technical assistance in the search and investigation in order to seek their humanitarian recovery, find the truth and seek justice in the case.

Watch a video (in Spanish) featuring the families of Ricardo and Antonio below:

One of the key demands of the People’s Movement for Peace and Justice is accountability and justice for the disappeared. Further, Global Exchange has been an ally of human right defenders in Mexico for over 30 years. Our Mexico Human Rights Senior Fellow, Alberto Solis, was contacted by the families and the lawyers of Ricardo and Antonio to support them in their visit to DC. We will be with them to make sure the US State Department follows up on their commitments with the case and the victims. The People’s Movement for Peace and Justice stands with these families, and with all the families of the disappeared.

Will you stand with us, and sign our petition calling for justice for the disappeared, as well as a set of demands to bring peace and accountability to the region?

School boardOne by one the 8th graders from Buena Vista- Horace Mann School got up to speak at the podium in front of the San Francisco school board to tell about their grief and fear after the death of one of their friends. They said,

Violence affects our education, we can’t focus; it affects our mental health because we are afraid at school and on the streets and that’s why we are here to urge you to vote for the resolution in ‘Support of the Prevention of Gun Violence’.Student

The 13 and 14 year old’s input was the latest bit of organizing to come out of work  started at Global Exchange in the wake of the Newtown shootings when we were inspired by the Caravan for Peace.

And the resolution passed! The vote for the resolution was unanimous!

With 4 pages of  “Whereas:” language Commissioner Matt Haney laid out the problem as it affects the health of students in schools – Guns are the second leading cause of death among children and teens.  There have been  approximately 87 school shootings since the one at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown.  More than 75% of the guns used by youth in suicide or guns causing unintentional injuries were kept in the home of a relative or friend of the victim.

Dr Peter Choi, a pediatrician told the Board that the absence of guns from children’s homes was the most reliable and effective way to prevent fire-arm injuries.


A letter will be going out to all households in December to commemorate the students lost to violence in Sandy Hook and elsewhere with instructions for safe storage of weapons and to encourage parents with guns to participate in the Gun Buy Back program sponsored by the city police department and local anti-violence groups. Health and wellness modules on guns and gun violence will be taught to all middle school and high school students and on December 13th, the teacher’s unions, community groups and victim’s groups will all gather at the UN Plaza to remember those lost to violence.



  • Join us if you can. Saturday, December 13, 2014 2pm-5pm  UN Plaza, San Francisco
  • Pass a resolution at your school board or city.






Kirsten Moller participating in One Million Moms for Gun Control action in San Francisco. January, 2013. Photo Credit: Global Exchange

Update 2/5/2013: Folks in the Bay Area, don’t forget to come out for the End Gun Violence vigil which is happening at the Federal Building on February 7th at 4pm to call for strong public safety laws.

It’s Time to Get War Weapons Off America’s Streets

Last summer as we traveled with the Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity sharing the stories of the victims of the drug war in Mexico, we let people know that 80% of the murders were committed with arms bought legally in the US and smuggled across the border to Mexico. The stories of the victims were heart-wrenching, but we never felt we had the backing in this country to call for a complete ban on assault style weapons.

Last week I took part in a One Million Moms for Gun Control action in San Francisco.

Now is the time when we can change the debate in this country. In the wake of the cruel massacre in Newtown, ordinary citizens are demanding action on common sense laws – like a ban on the military style weapons and high-capacity magazines that killed the children and school employees in Newtown. And we don’t fear the gun lobbyists.

It’s time for Congress to stand up to them too and to put public safety ahead of gun industry profits!


Participants of One Million Moms for Gun Control – San Francisco Bay Area Chapter. January, 2013. Photo Credit: Global Exchange

How Do We Get War Weapons Off Our Streets?

Community groups are forming all across the U.S., of mothers, teachers and people who are sick of preventable tragedies. They are forming coalitions with long-term gun control activists like the Brady Campaign, Heeding Gods Call, Million Moms March, the Violence Policy Center and Move-on.

On January 14, Javier Sicilia and researcher Sergio Aguayo presented a petition from more than 54,000 people from Mexico and the United States to the United States Embassy in Mexico City, demanding an end to gun trafficking from the United States to Mexico.

In the coming weeks, Sicilia, the Movement for Peace, and representatives of Mexican civil society will follow up on the petition to talk with U.S. representatives. Read more about it in this recent letter issued by members of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity.

On Wednesday, January 30, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing to consider how to address proposals to control gun sales.

Here in San Francisco, an End Gun Violence vigil is planned for the Federal Building on February 7th at 4pm to call for strong public safety laws.

We can make our communities safer for everyone here in the US and we can support our friends across the border, who told us time and time again that we had to stop the flow of weapons into their country, if we dared to hope for peace.


  • Call your elected officials and tell them to support the 2013 Ban on Assault Weapons (sponsored by Dianne Feinstein) which will ban assault weapons, high capacity ammunition cartridges and make all gun buyers pass a background check. Go to this contact elected officials webpage to get started.
  • Follow hashtag #endgunviolence on Twitter to stay in-the-loop about gun control & related issues.



Mexican poet Javier Sicilan destroyed a gun during the Caravan for Pace this summer, 2012.

Mexican poet Javier Sicilia destroyed a gun during the Caravan for Peace this summer, 2012.

Millions of anguished conversations about the murder of so many small children at a Connecticut elementary school have produced new resolve to do something. As the holiday season starts, there is a palpable wave of revulsion against the gun industry, the gun fanatics, and the powerful lobbyists who have intimidated our political representatives into allowing all manner of guns – even military style weapons – to be widely and easily available.

Now, with a sense of sea change in public attitude, politicians are waking up. Several unlikely Democrats have spoken in favor of the initiative by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D. CA) to reintroduce the now expired ban on assault weapons she successfully championed in the mid 1990s. Meanwhile, for the first time, the Obama Administration is tentatively articulating leadership on gun regulation. If President Obama commits to strong and sensible gun regulation, we should have his back.

This new commitment to at least talk about gun restriction is heartening. Nevertheless, those, such as myself, who have watched previous waves of horror sweep in, and then recede in the wake of other gun-murder outrages, know we need a broad and resilient coalition against gun violence. We have to be able to win battles now as well as in future confrontations with gun industry interests.

A coalition that can effectively parry the U.S. gun lobby needs to work at a local, state, national, and international level. Locally, we need to involve the representatives of communities and neighborhoods most affected by the more than 30,000 annual gun homicides in the United States in the evolving conversation about how to make our communities safe. At the state level we need to work with legislators like California Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) who is working (with our partners at the Brady Campaign and other Senators like Kevin de Leon, (D-Los Angeles) to make California a laboratory for sensible and exemplary gun policies.

At the national level we need vision and leadership from an Administration that has not previously engaged the difficult politics of gun control. For more than a year, we have worked with allies from Mexico, Washington and important networks like Presente.org to petition Obama to use executive power to ban the import of assault to the U.S. This request to President Obama was a central element of the Mexican Caravan for Peace that crossed the country last summer, led by victims of the wave of violence 60,000 and counting – fueled by drug profits and guns smuggled from the U.S.

Candlelight vigil at East Los Angeles Church for Caravan for Peace

Candlelight vigil at East Los Angeles Church for Caravan for Peace

Restoring the ban on assault weapons, as Senator Dianne Feinstein seeks to do, would be a vital first step that would go much further than any available executive action to limit access to military style assault weapons. But passage, even such a common sense bill, is by no means guaranteed. Those who profit from the gun trade and their lobbyist enablers like the NRA have a strong grip on the leash of legislators, especially the Republican who control the House of Representatives.

For sensible gun control measures to succeed, the local political math must change. That is why sea change moments – when Washington’s policy silos disappear momentarily and the grief of a few moves the hearts of millions – are so important.

Such a moment came in Mexico when the Mexican President Calderón suggested that 14 teenage victims of an October 2010 massacre at a birthday party in the border town of Ciudad Juarez were linked to organized crime. In fact, the teens were all football players mistakenly targeted by cartel hit men. Later, when the boy’s mothers confronted the President about this during a televised meeting the video of the encounter went viral and caused an opinion watershed and eventually a powerful movement led by victims of Mexico’s drug war. This is the same movement that crossed the border to dramatically make the case for steps to regulate assault weapons in 29 US cities last summer.

As the New Year dawns and members of Congress will likely face decisions about how to weigh in on restoring the assault weapons ban and other possible gun control legislation. We must keep alive the urgency of these initiatives even as attention to the families and victims of Newtown recedes.

Constituent pressure on specific members of Congress will be key to any legislative success. Additionally, the voices of people from both sides of the border with loved ones lost to this long plague of gun violence bring a powerful and morally urgent voice to this conversation. There is no question that banning assault weapons would benefit the security and safety of Mexican border communities. Ending the large scale smuggling of assault weapons used by criminals throughout Mexico is human and national security priority.

As the year closes people gather. I hope we can all look each other in the eyes and muster the courage to ask what kind of world we want to live in and how we can love and work together to get there.


Please join the call on President Obama to stop the flow of assault weapons into our communities.

Most of the 60,000 people killed in Mexico as a result of the “Drug War” were killed with guns sold in the U.S. Tell President Obama that you don’t want greedy gun merchants selling assault weapons, built for war, into our communities where they are then used to massacre tens of thousands of innocent people on both sides of the border.