Tens Of Thousands March To Protest Drug War Violence In Mexico
May 9, 2011 By Mari Hayman
Tens of thousands of Mexicans participated in a nationwide march for peace on Sunday, protesting the violence that has killed nearly 40,000 of their countrymen and demanding an end to a crackdown on drug cartels they say has failed.
“We’ve had enough”, chanted marchers, who carried pictures of dead or disappeared loved ones through the streets of states across Mexico. The march, officially named the March for Peace with Justice and Dignity, was organized by poet Javier Sicilia, a Catholic priest whose 24 year-old son Juan Francisco was murdered along with six other people in Cuernavaca in March.
“Violence will lead to more violence,” Sicilia said, criticizing Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s use of national security forces against cartels since December 2006. Violence in Mexico has escalated since then, as more than 1,400 Mexicans were murdered by drug gangs in April, more than any other month in the last four years.
“The government and political forces of this country should realize that they’re losing the representation of the nation which emanates from the people,” said Sicilia. “That is, from the citizens like those united in the Zócalo in Mexico City and in other cities across the country today.”
Meanwhile, the Mexican government has stood by its hard-line strategy of combating violent cartels. “This is not ‘the government’s war against drugs,’ but the fight of all Mexicans to build an authentic security, based on the rule of law and justice,” said National Security Spokesman Alejandro Poiré in a blog published by the office of the President last week.
“To turn back would make things worse,” said Mexican Minister of the Interior Francisco Blake. “If we retreat, we’ll be letting gangs of criminals walk the streets of Mexico with impunity, assaulting the people without anyone stopping them.”
The three-day march led by Sicilia kicked off May 6 with approximately 500 participants in Cuernavaca, in the state of Morelos, before reaching Mexico City. By the time the march culminated at the Zócalo, Mexico City’s historic plaza, official estimates calculated that some 90,000 people had joined the march and that about 9,000 public security officers and hundreds of others were dispatched to maintain order. Parallel marches for peace also occurred in major U.S. cities, including Washington, D.C., New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
“We wanted to come here so we could join the peace march in Mexico and denounce the politics of security in our country that continue to be dictated from the United States,” said Ricardo Juárez of Mexicanos sin Fronteras (Mexicans without Borders), joining other protesters in front of the White House on Sunday.
Photo: Eneas @ Flickr.