Mexicans Respond to War on Drugs With Peace Caravan

Clayton Conn Jun 17, 2011

On June 4th, more than a dozen buses and numerous cars set out from Cuernavaca, Morelos en route to Ciudad Juarez, a city that has endured the worst violence of President Felipe Calderon’s drug war and become a symbol of its increasingly obvious failure. In Benito Juarez Square on June 10th, near the heart of the besieged city, a pact was signed that demanded an end to the drug war and sweeping social and political changes that address the root causes of Mexico’s spiraling violence. The Caravan for Peace was headed by poet Javier Sicilia, whose son was murdered in Cuernavaca in March of this year, and built on momentum from the March for Peace with Justice and Dignity that ended in Mexico City on May 8th.

The route taken by the caravan was chosen to include the country’s hardest-hit cities and regions. It therefore presented a unique opportunity to collect testimonies and stories from people across Mexico living under a drug war that has claimed roughly 40,000 lives, increased corruption at all levels, and resulted in rising human rights abuses by security forces. The following photos were taken throughout the weeklong journey.

Poet and anti-drug war leader Javier Sicilia, shortly after signing the pact in Ciudad Juarez on June 10.

Three years ago, Acapulco couple Jaime Montaner and Julia Alonso’s son Julio Alberto López Alonso was kidnapped outside of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon while on vacation.  They have since devoted themselves to finding their son, even taking the extreme measure of dropping reward flyers from an airplane over Monterrey in 2009. In their search the couple has run into impossible bureaucracy and official indifference. “[Nuevo Leon] hasn’t done any investigation, they haven’t done anything…Why haven’t they done anything? I have no idea,” Julia said. “We have also made asked the federal government for help…but they haven’t done anything either.”

Julia holding a photo of her son.

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