Peace Caravan Gaining Momentum
Energy is building for the cross-country Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity, led by poet Javier Sicilia and the Mexican peace movement. The Caravan crosses from Tijuana into San Diego on Sunday, August 12, and will traverse more than 5,600 miles along the U.S.-Mexico, through the Southeast, to Chicago and New York, and culminating in Washington, DC on September 12.
Javier Sicilia will be accompanied by more than 60 other Mexicans, victims of violence, representatives of indigenous communities, human rights leaders, artists, youth groups, churches for peace, and allied organizations. Many U.S. activists will also travel with the Caravan, as will journalists from Mexico and the United States.
The Caravan addresses the United States’ role in the violence that’s afflicted so many Mexican families, including global drug prohibition and consumption, gun trafficking, militarized foreign policy, the denial of immigrants’ rights, and money laundeirng. At the heart of the Caravan will be testimonies of victims of violence by criminal and state forces, who are bearing the human cost of these policies and calling for change.
The movement organized two national caravans in Mexico last year, from Cuernavaca to Juárez at the border, and another to Chiapas in the south, with FOR activists in both. Some sixty organizations from the U.S. and Mexico are supporting this year’s caravan, including Global Exchange, NAACP, Drug Policy Alliance, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, Presente.org, School of the Americas Watch, Border Angels, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and FOR.
A feeder caravan from the San Francisco Bay Area will be sent off with a public event in Oakland on August 10, with music, speakers, and the projection of names of 10,000 Mexicans who have died in the drug war violence since 2006.
Bringing Down the New Jim Crow, a radio documentary series on the drug war and mass incarceration produced by Chris Moore-Backman, will feature an hour-long program on the Caravan. Chris served on FOR’s first Colombia peace team in 2002, and he will travel with the Caravan. With support from FOR and many others, the project just met its Kickstarter goal to raise $17,500 for the whole series.
In El Paso, Caravan leaders will meet the mayor, and the City Council is expected to pass a resolution supporting the Caravan’s goals and the Code of Conduct of Borderlands Heeding God’s Call, led by Annunciation House and others.
In Georgia, the Caravan will make a visit to the former School of the Americas in Fort Benning, where Mexican soldiers are trained for the drug war.
Among those participating in the Caravan and coming all the way from Kabul will be Dr. Hakim (Wee Teck Young), leader of Afghan Peace Volunteers and recipient of the 2012 Pfeffer Peace Prize.
I will be blogging and reporting from the Caravan from its start in San Diego as far as New Orleans on August 27. You can follow the Caravan on our Tumblr page.
If you are near the Caravan route, you can get involved in planning public events and helping to feed and house the Caravan, or by joining the Caravan for a day or longer.
The Caravan is still raising funds to pay for this ambitious project to help change U.S.-Mexico relations from the bottom up, and end the drug war and gun violence. Please support however you can.