Caravan Logo

Written by Laura Carlsen

Friday, April 1, 2016 we (the 33 people traveling from Honduras to New York City on the Caravan for Peace, Life and Justice) awoke in a pine forest.

The night before, the Caravan decided to stay at an ecotourism center, a cluster of cabins about an hour out of La Esperanza called EcoSol. Many human rights and popular education workshops have been held here, and activists seeking respite from the constant pressure—and threats—of defending rights and territory in Honduras have found a place to breathe freely here, even if just for a few days.

We were grateful for the space–and the Internet–and caught up with tasks of internal organization, multimedia production and spreading the word about the now 3-day old Caravan.

There are 33 of us now. The caravan has gained strength along its path. After breakfast, we set off for Utopia, the COPINH’s (Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras) cultural center outside La Esperanza.

COPINH Caravan Image 1COPINH leaders received us–Tomás Gómez, Lilian Pérez, Marleny Reyes, Sotelo Chavarria, Gaspar Sánchez and Selvi Milla among them, later joined by Berta’s daughter Laura Zúniga Cáceres. Years of experience, training and knowledge-building are reflected in this group, even in the younger ones. Also a different kind of leadership that consciously creates room for new people and new ideas. A feminist, anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, environmentalist leadership that refuses to be reduced to just one of those terms.

After we eat—mounds of beans and rice, thick tortillas and fried bananas, we enter the meeting room where we form a close circle around an altar to Berta. The photo that has spread across the globe, of her sitting on a rock beside the river, smiling and half-turned toward the camera, is poised in the center of the circle of colored candles, multi-hued corn, leaves and seeds. The room fills with the smoke of natural incense, as people from the caravan and the organization file in.

COPIHN Image 2Gaspar Sanchez, director of sexual diversity in the leadership of COPINH, begins. Later in the day he’ll explain that COPINH is possibly the only national indigenous organization with a commission devoted to sexual diversity. Although the work’s still getting off the ground—mostly because the attacks on Lenca land and resources have intensified, he explains–the recognition that gays and lesbians exist in indigenous communities, that they have rights, that the discrimination they face is double or triple, has been a huge advance for the organization and its LGBTQ members.

It is another sign that the political and economic elites behind the assassination of Berta Caceres knew exactly what they were doing. COPINH is a model for the power of resistance when it is inclusive, spiritual, cultural, and integral.

“The war on drugs in Honduras is an excuse to eliminate us”, Gaspar states. Chavarría relates the history of COPINH, beginning with its founding in 1993 “to confront the destruction of the environment”. The organization now works in 6 departments, demanding the right of indigenous communities to consultation under Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization, recuperating ancestral lands, and facing off with powerful transnational companies to block megaprojects on indigenous lands.

Lilian Pérez notes that last year the organization achieved its dream of having a Casa de la Mujer, a women’s house. Here women from the communities receive leadership training with a different concept of leadership, gender equality, health and education workshops, etc.

at3yYyG - ImgurWhile the murder of Berta has been a terrible blow to the work, Lilian says they always had a pact– “that whether she’s here or not here, COPINH will continue forward… We’ll be many Bertas”.

Tomás Gómez, COPINH’s interim coordinator, emphasizes the importance of developing their own forms of autonomous and independent communication. The Honduran press is controlled by handful of families and frequently vilifies the COPINH and its actions. The organization has a network of five community radios.

Gómez explains that the spiritual aspect of the struggle reinforces identity and the strength to move forward collectively. La Pascualita, en elderly Lenca woman who conserved traditional ways even as the rest of the group lost the language and customs, now serves as the spiritual guide to the organization and a pillar of the effort to recover ancestral ways.

As the night winds down, we ask how they’ve come as far as they have, recovering ancestral lands, blocking the designs of powerful companies, overcoming repression, moving toward gender equality and uniting communities and the answer is the combination of the spiritual connection to the land, the development of autonomous media and productive projects, participatory democratic leadership and unity.

All these will be put to the test in this new phase of the organization after Berta’s death. But amid the laughter and the tears, the firm step of the leadership and the strong base and convictions of the organization–built through years of careful guidance–assure that the transition will be solid. The role of international solidarity, they emphasized, will be especially crucial in the months to come. 

You can follow the Caravan on Facebook  and Twitter, and please ask your friends to do the same.

This content was originally published by Telesur under the following address: Global Exchange has translated the article into English. Translated by Laura Krasovitzky

Human rights defenders and victims along with religious leaders are participating in a caravan that seeks to compile testimonies that can be heard at the U.N. Special Session on drugs taking place on April 19. With the goal of raising awareness on the negative effects of prohibitionist drug policies around the world, the caravan will be traveling through Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico before culminating at the U.N. headquarters in New York.

The initiative began this past Monday and is being led by human rights defenders, religious leaders and victims of human rights violations who seek to open spaces for dialogue. During the U.N. special session, heads of state will address the issue of national drug policies and the future frameworks for regulation of these narcotics.

The civic organizations that make up this caravan have criticized the rol the United States has played in relation to drugs and drug trafficking. According to Human Rights Director of Global Exchange Ted Lewis, “The United States has played a key role in promoting these prohibitionist policies around the world, especially Latin America. Here we have a new series of laws that are being implemented with racist biases in criminal justice reform and in Latin America this has manifested in the way of interventions and violence against its own people,“ said the director.

In light of these views and the thousands of victims, especially in countries represented by the Caravan, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and Honduran human rights organizations have endorsed the initiative and marked that the Caravan for Peace, Life and Justice is expected to arrive one day before the U.N. special session.

By Laura Krasovitzky, Ted Lewis / Published on AlterNet March 25, 2016. 

Starting in Honduras on March 28th, the Caravan for Peace, Life and Justice will travel through El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and the United States with the goal of reaching New York City on the eve of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on Drugs beginning on April 19.

Made up of a diverse group of people including victims of the drug war, families who have lost relatives to violence or incarceration, human rights defenders, journalists, faith leaders, activists and others, the Caravan will travel through some of the places most affected by the war on drugs with the purpose of giving way to an inclusive, collective and open dialogue on drug policy and creating alternatives to the failed prohibitionist regime.

Why Latin America?As one of the primary regions for drug production and trafficking, Latin America has become a hub of human rights violations, organized crime, systemic impunity and environmental destruction. In Central America, the legacy of brutal civil wars combined with militarization strategies funded by the U.S. has given way to some of the most dangerous cities in the world, forcing thousands to abandon their homes in search of safety and risking deportation once they reach Mexico’s southern and northern borders.

In Honduras, Garifuna, indigenous and rural communities have been hit the hardest through gang violence and drug trafficking operations encroaching on their ancestral lands. Speaking out against the drug war comes at a high cost and those who engage in social justice and environmental activism are brutally silenced, as evidenced by the recent murders of Berta Cáceres and Nelson García from the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH).

In neighboring El Salvador, between 20 and 30 people are murdered every day and approximately $400 million (USD) are paid by civilians in extortions every year. Similarly, Guatemala’s drug trafficking networks are responsible for 45% of homicides and overcrowded prisons with almost three times the people they can hold. Crossing into Mexico, over 150,000 people have been murdered and more than 27,000 disappeared since 2006, along with approximately 120 journalists who have been killed since 2000. There, the human cost of the drug war has been largely fueled by militarized national security strategies financed with a $25.6 billion (USD) budget from the U.S. as of 2016.

Caravan LogoWhile Latin America has paid a heavy price for implementing interventionist drug policies, the devastating effects of prohibition are not unique to the region. In the United States, over 2.2 million people are currently incarcerated and 80% of those in federal prisons for drug offenses are black or Latino. Drug law violations have been the main driver of new admissions to prison for decades and while federal and state governments have spent $1 trillion on the drug war in the past 40 years, federal assistance for harm reduction initiatives, such as syringe access programs that would help tackle the upsurge in opioid overdoses, has been nonexistent.

Clearly, we still have a long way to go.

Why now?

After decades of punitive global drug policies revolving around UNGASS 1998’s unrealistic pledge of a “drug free world“ and the 1961, 1971 and 1988 International Drug Control Treaties, many governments and civil society organizations alike are calling for a different approach to drug policy that prioritizes human rights, public health, harm reduction and sustainability.

As people from around the globe convene in New York for UNGASS 2016, the Caravan aims to shed light on the human faces and heartrending stories of the U.S.-driven drug war and its impact across the Americas.

Making its final stop in New York City on April 18, some of the actions planned for that day include a walk from City Hall to the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan in order to highlight the ties between drug policy and criminal justice reform, a gathering outside the U.N. with families of drug war victims from around the globe and an evening event at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem bringing together faith leaders opposed to the drug war.

Twenty-two days, five countries, one message: end the drug war. If the people lead, the leaders will follow.

Laura Krasovitzky is the Drug Policy Alliance representative for the caravan. Ted Lewis, human rights director for Global Exchange is the coordinator general of the ‘No More Drug War’ Caravan to Visit Five Impacted Countries on way to UN Session in NY

Caravan Video Contest Graphic (1)

In just two months the Global Exchange Caravan for Peace, Life, and Justice will start a month-long, five-nation journey north from Honduras to New York City, arriving at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem on April 19th.

The Caravan aims to give voice to victims of the failed war on drugs and raise the call for drug policy reform that prioritizes health, harm reduction, and human rights.

The drug war is a failure and we all know it, but the stories of why and how it will end are just beginning to be told.

That is why we are launching an international video contest. We want to hear your story!

We invite you to create a 1-3 minute original video on the drug war’s impact in your community and what people are (or aren’t) doing about it. Convey to an international audience the urgency for action to end the drug war tragedy.

The creators of the top 3 videos will win great prizes:

  • First prize: A chance to join the Caravan as part of the audiovisual team in charge of the documentation of the Caravan for Peace, Life, and Justice, March 28th until April 19th, 2016, from Honduras to New York, with all expenses paid, including airfare, accommodations, transportation, and food!
  • Second Prize: $1,500 grant.
  • Third Prize: Nikon D7100 Digital Camera

To Participate: Upload your video to YouTube and send us the link at by March 1, 2016.

Your story will be part of the growing movement to end the war on drugs!!

Making the cost of the drug war visible, encouraging debate and demanding compassionate change are at the heart of the “Caravan for Peace, Life, and Justice.”  Join us in building a powerful movement to Stop the Harm and ensure Peace, Life and Justice for all.

Learn more about the contest here and the upcoming Caravan:


John Lindsay-Poland, Senator De León and Kirsten Moller at California capitol building in Sacramento

On January 10, 2012  on behalf of Global Exchange I joined the Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Brady campaign in the California Capitol building in Sacramento to provide a support testimony for Senator De León’s Senate Joint Resolution No. 10 that calls for a comprehensive approach to stop the trafficking of illegal weapons and ammunition across the border into Mexico.

The resolution which passed the committee by a majority will be submitted to the full legislature later this spring.

It urges the President and Congress to pursue a comprehensive approach to stem the trafficking of illicit United States firearms and ammunition into Mexico enhancing collaboration among local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies by:

  • the allocation of a permanent source of federal funding to sustain local and state law enforcement operations to combat firearms trafficking and other border-related crimes,
  • the redirection of federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and United States Customs and Border Protection resources towards this effort,
  • reenactment of a strong federal assault weapons ban, along with a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines,
  • stronger federal authority to crack down on corrupt gun dealers,
  • extending Brady criminal background checks to all gun sales, including all sales at gun shows to prevent firearms trafficking, and the maintenance of firearm purchase records to help law enforcement track down armed criminals and solve gun crimes.

Here is the statement we made yesterday:

We’ve travelled here today to testify on this measure to control firearms trafficking because we’ve been convinced by our Mexican friends and colleagues that loose regulation of firearms in the U.S. facilitates a massive illegal weapons flow to the South that, in turn, helps fuel a bloody conflict that has resulted in the murder of at least 45,000 Mexicans since the end of 2006.  Sen. DeLeón’s SJR 10 resolution brings needed attention to this too often ignored issue while suggesting practical measures to reduce weapons smuggling.

As SJR 10 documents, Mexico has experienced a terrifying spiral of violence following an escalation of the war for drug prohibition by President Felipe Calderón at the end 2006.  The underlying causes of the war and for the spiking body count are complex and controversial, but there is broad consensus across most sectors in Mexico that easy access to weaponry smuggled from the United States is a major contributing factor to the growing mayhem.

SJR 10 correctly identifies the urgent need for action at the Federal level –by Congress and the President to cooperate in developing comprehensive limits on the trafficking of weapons and ammunition into Mexico.

In 2012 Alianza Civica (Civic Alliance), – traditionally Mexico’s premier election observation and electoral watchdog organization asked Global Exchange and other US human rights organizations to join them in a Mexican led petition campaign that echoes the concerns voiced in SJR 10 in terms of limiting the import of assault weapons to the United States and providing far stricter enforcement powers to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

This campaign against weapons smuggling has been given full and explicit support by Javier Sicilia, the renowned Mexican poet who, along with other victims of Mexico’s violence, is leading a massive peace movement he helped found after his son was murdered — along with six young friends — in March last year.

In recent months, even leaders of this peace movement have been targeted. On November 28th, Nepomuceno Moreno Núñez, a prominent movement activist, was gunned down in his home town of Hermosillo, Sonora in northwestern Mexico.
His offense? Being persistent in seeking justice in the case of his 18 year old son Jorge Mario Moreno León, who was kidnapped and disappeared in July, 2010.

California can send an important message to Washington with the passage of SJR 10.  Please support this important Resolution.

By Ted Lewis and Manuel Pérez Rocha

In the last year, an unprecedented number of Mexicans have received international recognition for their courageous work on behalf of migrants, workers, and the millions of victims of the country’s spiraling violence, institutional decomposition and appalling inequality. Just today, Mexican poet, Javier Sicilia, received a nod in this year’s TIME Magazine Person of the Year issue.

Below, we profile some of these movement leaders, artists, grass roots organizers, labor leaders, and clergy people working in the front trenches of the struggle for human rights. Through them we can hear the voices of millions more Mexicans crying out for justice and for the very soul of their nation.

They urge us to respond to the frightening militarization of Mexico, the hyper-exploitation of the poor, indigenous, and working classes; and the infuriating impunity enjoyed by well-connected and ruling-class criminals. They embody the struggle to end the profound injustice — both economic and legal — at the root of the murderous crime wave sweeping the country.

These eight distinguished advocates have been recognized because the Mexican government has failed to respond to a growing national emergency. As Mexico’s crisis deepens these patriots have gone abroad to sound an urgent alarm — amplified by the human rights, labor, and cultural groups who invited them — that Mexico is at the breaking point.

These are the kinds of Mexicans that President Obama, Congress, the media, the American public, and philanthropic foundations should be listening to and taking their cues from. These are the voices of those who have lived the tragic consequences of bad bi-national policies – so unlike President Calderon and his supporters north of the border who echo the hollow victories of the drug war and repeat market based delusions of success in the face of NAFTA’s bitter harvest.

The need for profound systemic changes on both sides of the border is painfully clear. 50 thousand Mexicans are dead since Presidents Calderón escalated the war for drug prohibition. Millions are displaced by the economic disaster of “free trade”. In Mexico, as in the US, ultra-rich plutocrats have hijacked the political system and are trying to foreclose on a dignified future for the poor and middle classes.

We need intelligent strategies and urgent action to end the “war on drugs”, level the economic playing field, and to make real our democratic aspirations on both side of the border. We must not let the inheritance of Mexico’s NAFTA generation be a disintegrating society where neither jobs nor educational opportunities exist for an expanding and politically repressed underclass.

In 2012 presidential elections will be held in Mexico as well as in the U.S. These elections, while no doubt important, will not bring the kind of deep changes needed in both countries. Such change and the movement necessary to make it happen must be driven from below — by those who bear the greatest burdens of inequality and have the most to gain by shattering the toxic status quo.

During 2011 movements led by victims of violence and those who are alienated from politics as usual have broken through the discourse of silence, altered the political landscape, and brought calls for revolutionary change back into view in both our countries.

The new struggle for fundamental reform is just getting underway and will take many forms, some of them unpredictable. But, you can be sure that, as resistance to war and inequality grows on both sides of the border the Mexicans leaders profiled below will be on its frontlines, joining their voices together with millions more on both sides of our shared border.

  • Abel Barrera, a anthropologist and human rights defender of indigenous and rural communities, who founded the respected and successful NGO Tlachinolan in the southern and impoverished state of Guerrero, was honored by the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights;
  • Javier Sicilia, leader of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity awarded a “people’s choice” human rights prize by Global Exchange; The movement is led the victims of the “drug war”. He was just profiled in TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2011 issue;
  • Gael Garcia, well known Mexican actor, and AMBULANTE, an organization he co-founded, headlined the Washington Office on Latin America’s (WOLA) annual Gala in recognition for his passionate and committed work to give visibility to the plight of migrants who undertake the perilous journey north and to the organization’s work to promote documentaries and to bring these films to the Mexican population;
  • Father Pedro Pantoja received the Letelier – Moffitt International Human Rights Award from the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC on behalf of Bethlehem, the Migrants’ Shelter of Saltillo, for their work to protect migrants in Mexico from kidnapping, extortion, sexual abuse, and murder — courageously challenging organized crime and corrupt public officials.
  • Marta Ojeda, a long time maquiladora activist was saluted by the New York Radio Festival and received an award for her organization, the Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras and “La Frontera” a documentary investigation of organized crime, violence and impunity and injustice along the Mexico – U.S. border; Marta connects the dots between neoliberal policies, economic dislocation, arms industries, money laundering corruption and impunity that have Mexico submerged in a deep crisis.
  • Napoleon Gómez Urrutiais the mine workers’ union president. He received the AFL-CIO Kirkland Award in recognition of his honest work work that included accusing the Mexican government of industrial homicide following a mine explosion that killed 65 miners –and whose bodies remain buried. The government retaliated with bogus charges and he has been forced into defacto exile in Canada.
  • Sister Consuelo Morales who received the Human Rights Watch’s Alison Des Forges Award for her work in Mexico to defend victims of human rights violations and hold their abusers accountable. She has worked with indigenous communities, street children, and founded Citizens in Support of Human Rights (CAHDAC) in her native Monterrey.
  • Tita Radilla was granted an award byPeace Brigades International and the Alliance for Lawyers at Risk for her relentless struggle for human rights.She has worked for more than 30 years with the Association of Relatives of Disappeared and Victims of Human Rights Violations (AFADEM), demanding justice for the victims of enforced disappearance in Mexico.

Ted Lewis directs the Mexico Program of Global Exchange.

Manuel Perez Rocha is an Associate Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies.

Javier Sicilia (left) with Global Exchange Human Rights Director Ted Lewis (right) June 2011

Congratulations Javier Sicilia, Global Exchange’s 2011 Human Rights Award winner who was just named one of TIME magazine’s People of the Year. TIME’s Person of the Year went to “The Protester” and Javier was among those profiled.

On June 1st 2011 Global Exchange honored People’s Choice winner Javier and two others at our annual Human Rights Awards gala.

Javier Sicilia is a Mexican father, poet, and citizen who lost his son Juan Francisco Sicilia Ortega in a drug war massacre on March 28, 2011 in Mexico. Juan was murdered along with six friends in an act of violence that Morelos state authorities immediately dismissed as “a settling of accounts.”

Javier Sicilia (left) delivering speech at 2011 Global Exchange Human Rights Awards

As we described in our Human Rights Award announcement back in May: Rather than retreat to the shadows of shock or fear, Sicilia has turned the pain of his searing loss into a tool for peace by convening marches and building a movement to free Mexico from the dogmas, dark alliances, impunity, and political expediency that fuel this tragic war.

Here is Javier Sicilia’s speech from the 2011 Global Exchange Human Rights Awards:

Javier Sicilia – 2011 People’s Choice Honoree from Global Exchange on Vimeo.

TIME magazine’s Person of the Year 2011 article about Javier is an inspiring read. In it Javier describes how he got involved in the movement to free Mexico:

“I got the awful news about Juan Francisco’s murder while I was at a conference in the Philippines. When I got to Cuernavaca [the Mexican town south of Mexico City where his son and six friends had been tortured and killed by gangsters angry that two of the young men had reported members of their gang to police] I was in a lot of emotional pain. But when I arrived at the crematorium I had to deal with the media. I asked the reporters to have some respect; I told them I’d meet them the next day in the city plaza. When I got there I found they’d put a table [for a press conference] out for me, and I realized this was going to be bigger than I’d anticipated.

Read the complete TIME magazine article here.

Nepomuceno Moreno Núñez, an activist of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD) was gunned down on November 28th while walking in Hermosillo, Sonora in northwestern Mexico.

“Don Nepo” (as he was known to friends) joined other victims of Mexico’s violence to speak out and seek justice – in his case on behalf of his son, Jorge Mario Moreno León, who was kidnapped and disappeared in July, 2010.

Don Nepo took part in the Caravans that crisscrossed Mexico earlier this year and was part of a small group that met with President Calderon in mid-October. That same month, several armed men came to his home and threatened him with death if he did not stop looking for justice for his son. Despite his high profile complaints, the government offered him no protection.

Now, after his murder, concern for the safety other family members has led the MPJD and others to request pressure on Mexican officials to provide necessary protection and carry out a full and credible investigation of both murders.

Please join us in making that call. Tell Mexican officials to protect Don Nepo’s family and to investigate his murder! Send a letter today!

Links in Spanish:
Exigir justicia, una sentencia de muerte en México
Pronunciamiento del MPJD ante el asesinato de Don Nepo
En memoria de Don Nepomuceno Moreno Nuñez

Mexico’s Peace with Justice and Dignity Movement looks north of the border

After months of marches and caravans covering thousand of kilometers of Mexico’s highways and back roads, Javier Sicilia, other family members of murder victims, along with a small support team, traveled to Washington, DC and Los Angeles, CA at the invitation of Global Exchange.

They came with the goal of making the movement more visible in the U.S. and to talk about three things:

  1. breaking the Pentagon’s co-dependency with Calderon’s failed and duplicitous war strategy;
  2. challenging lax U.S. regulation of assault weapons that allows thousands of guns to be smuggled into Mexico and criminal hands every week (please sign the petition);
  3. ending drug prohibition policies that have led to 40 years of a foolish, counter-productive, and ever more bloody “war” on drugs.

The decision to more deeply engage the public and officials in the United States is based on a recognition by the movement that any real and lasting solutions to the crisis of violence and impunity that has exploded during Mexico’s drug war will require deep changes on both sides of the border.

In Washington, they gave testimony to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission and the head of Human Rights Watch (which just delivered a scathing report on torture by Mexico’s military including the elite marine units favored by President Calderón). In events organized by our partner, the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), they also met with Obama Administration officials, key Senate offices and addressed the public at a forum hosted (and videotaped) by the Woodrow Wilson Institute.

Ted Lewis and Javier Sicilia at #OccupyLA

In Los Angeles, Sicilia was a headliner at the International Conference of the Drug Policy Alliance attended by over 1,000 advocates and organizers from around the world. During his brief visit Sicilia visited the Occupy Los Angeles, met with reporters and editorial board members, spoke at a large open air rally against the drug war in MacArthur Park, and gave TV interviews broadcast nationally on Univision and Telemundo.

At the Drug Policy Conference, Sicilia took part took part in a roundtable conversation I facilitated on “Mexico’s Crisis and the Bi-national Movement Against the Drug War”. The wide ranging discussion also featured: Brisa Maya, Director of Mexico’s National Center for Social Communication (CENCOS); John Gibler, Journalist and Author of To Die In Mexico; Zulma Mendez, Director of the Pacto por la Cultura in Ciudad Juarez; Diego Osorno, Journalist and Author, El Cartel de Sinaloa; Victor Quintana, social leader and Former Congressman from Chihuahua; and Susie Byrd, a City Council Representative from El Paso, Texas.

The conversation probed the causes of Mexico’s anguish and the terrible forces tearing and testing the fabric of the nation. For the United States, Mexico’s emergency tests our national character and ability to learn as people and neighbors.

The Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity has plans to do more in the U.S. during 2012 as both Mexico and the U.S. face presidential elections. Mexico’s crisis and the urgent need to address it need to be put front and center whenever and wherever possible.

While in the U.S., Javier Sicilia gave voice to the idea that the same impulse to seek deep structural reforms that inspires the movement in Mexico is reflected in the Occupy Wall Street and other surging movements that aspire to break the death grip of money and power over our democracies. We are all in this together.

Our friends from Mexico will be back up north soon and will be looking for your help to take the struggle for peace to the next level. Stay tuned and refer your friends to our e-mail list.

During their speaking tour, authors John Gibler, and Diego Enrique Osorno gave a talk about an increasingly violent Mexico as they addressed the first event of a border activist summit at the University of Texas at El Paso. These two experts bring first hand perspectives from the regions of Mexico most affected by the drug war and discuss recent social mobilizations and possible avenues for change.

Diego Osorno’s best selling book on the origins and deeply entrenched power of the Cartel de Sinaloa speaks plainly about cartel infiltration of Mexico’s civil and military power structures and how to wrest the destiny of the country back from the criminal mafias empowered by drug prohibition, impunity, and easy access to guns.

Gibler’s work, To Die in Mexico takes the reader deep into the terrifying landscape of Mexico’s drug war where he exposes the hollow slogans and military “victories”  in the light of the searing pain and inhuman impact they bring to communities across Mexico.

The El Paso Times reported on the BASTA, the Border Activist Summit for Teaching and Action:

Gibler said two studies by Mexican universities found that 95 percent to 98 percent of homicides in the drug war were not investigated. The lack of investigation means that the deaths of human-rights activists, journalists and others also go unsolved….”All manner of violence is masked by this so-called drug war,” said Gibler, who pointed out that the arrival of federal forces in a locality often coincides with a rise in homicides.

Osorno said he knows 14 people (four women and 10 men) who have been killed and hopes for an end of the bloodshed in his country. “One day, this book of terror that we go to sleep with will close,” he said.

Speaking Tour Details

The speaking tour continues to Texas, Arizona, Mexico City, and various cities in California. Please check here for more information.