How often do we spotlight the effects of the violence taking place in our sister city and other part of Mexico (and yes, even in the US)? I don’t mean reading the statistics. I mean really focusing on the aftermath. We don’t.
Next week on Thursday morning, Laredo gets a chance to join the 100+ caravan participants passing through our streets and stopping at about 25 cities on their way to Washington DC.
I know it is not a popular topic. I can feel the ambivalence from a community that would rather turn its head – some because they mistakenly believe it is about the “other” and yet others because of fear that comes from violence that has already touched their lives. Some of you know where I fall.
Famed Mexican Poet, Javier Sicilia, has taken a stance after his son, along with six friends, were murdered. Along with many other families that have suffered the loss of a loved one due to drug violence, they will be traveling across the United States with their message. From the Caravan for Peace’s page:
The Caravan represents one element of a broad strategy responding to Mexico’s violent national emergency resulting from Drug War policies (in Mexico and the U.S.) gone tragically wrong. The idea of the Caravan is to make Mexico’s national emergency tangible in the United States and to create a platform where those affected by the Drug War from Mexico, the U.S. and elsewhere can join their voices to inform public opinion on both sides of the border.
The U.S. Caravan’s mission is:
To shine a light on the crisis of Drug War violence, impunity and human rights atrocities that are rending Mexico’s social fabric; To make the connections between the impacts of the Drug War in Mexico (violence, deaths and rise of organized crime) and in the U.S. (criminalization, incarceration, and life-long marginalization- disproportionately affecting African-American and Latino communities); To promote a civil society discourse with the American public and opinion leaders about the policies (easy access to assault weapons, militarization of drug enforcement and U.S. prohibition policies) at the root of the crisis; To foster collaboration and effective solidarity among a broad range of North American; Progressive, grassroots, religious, humanitarian and other organizations; and To leave, in the Caravan’s wake, informed, organized, and mobilized communities of activists who will pursue reform strategies in the near and long-term on both sides of the border.
The Caravan takes place at a politically charged moment. It begins in San Diego, six weeks after Mexico’s July 1 presidential election and arrives in Washington, D.C. in September, six weeks prior to the U.S. elections. This summer we will bring communities together around events large and small, turning awareness into action and building a movement that will continue pushing for changes at the local, state, national and international level long after the Caravan has passed through.
I will have the privilege of hosting one of the families coming (unless sleeping arrangements change to keep all visitors together) but because the planning for receiving the caravan has been loosely organized by volunteers, the group needs a little bit of help. We had been looking for a donor for an easy-to-take lunch boxes for the caravaners as they leave for McAllen on Thursday but none have stepped up. Donations are being accepted to help buy ingredients to make a sandwich lunch.
More than anything, your presence is welcome as both the caravan participants and local Laredo family members speak out about their loved ones who are still missing or have been killed amidst the drug violence. We hope to see support on Thursday, August 23rd at St. Peter’s Plaza. Gatherings will start at 8am for an open microphone with the press conference beginning at 9am.
If you have questions, you can write to the local organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org (or peacecaravanlaredo@gmail we accidentally set up two).