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Latino Daily News

Thursday September 13, 2012

“Caravan for Peace” Leader To Take A Break After U.S. Tour

“Caravan for Peace” Leader To Take A Break After U.S. Tour

Photo: Javier Sicilia

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Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, who just wrapped up a tour of the United States with other members of his Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, said he will take a break for a couple of months to return to his academic pursuits and privately mourn the violent death of his son in 2011.

Sicilia told reporters here after an appearance before the U.S. Senate on Wednesday that he will not participate for the time being in the activities of the MPJD, made up of dozens of relatives of victims of drug-related violence in Mexico.

“I’m going away for a couple of months and then I’ll come back, and I’ll be a part of the movement in another way, but I’ll be there,” Sicilia said at the conclusion of his movement’s peace caravan in the United States.

The poet said he is “very tired” after a very difficult year and a half in which he has had to confront the pain caused by the death of his son in March 2011 and the “inefficiency of the Mexican state, which at the end of the day allowed and brought about that death with its policy of war” on drug cartels.

“It’s a moment for me. I also must be with my family and experience my grief. I really haven’t been able to experience the depth of this grief,” the MPJD leader said, adding that he does not fear the movement will lose momentum if he is not at the helm.

“I think it’s time to start thinking about other figures ... movements must be more horizontal, less dependent on one person,” Sicilia said.

The poet, who stopped writing and formed his movement after his son was murdered in the central state of Morelos by suspected drug-gang members, has harshly criticized Mexican President Felipe Calderon for deploying tens of thousands of army soldiers and marines against the drug mobs.

He also says the United States shares the blame for spiraling violence since Calderon took office in late 2006, citing the high demand for illegal drugs there and the north-to-south flow of weapons to Mexican drug cartels.

He wants the United States to stop providing aid to Mexico under the Merida Initiative, a U.S.-funded regional plan to battle drug cartels and other transnational criminal networks.

The activist also supports legalizing narcotics and insists that drugs should be treated as a public-health problem not as a national security issue, a stance that President Barack Obama does not share.

Since Calderon took office in late 2006, organized crime-related violence in Mexico has left some 60,000 dead, 10,000 missing and 120,000 displaced from their homes.

Calderon also has come under heavy criticism by international rights groups for using the military to battle drug gangs.

New York-based Human Rights Watch, for example, said in a report last year that “instead of reducing violence, Mexico’s ‘war on drugs’ has resulted in a dramatic increase in killings, torture, and other appalling abuses by security forces, which only make the climate of lawlessness and fear worse in many parts of the country.”

This summer’s caravan in the United States was the MPJD’s first outside Mexico and the third since the movement was founded.