Mexican President Calderón has broken his public pledge made to Mexican peace movement representatives to evaluate steps taken by the government since an internationally televised dialogue held in the Chapultepec Castle, three months ago.
Contending that the president reneged on his promise, peace movement leaders have challenged him to honor his word by moving ahead with plans to convene, as agreed, at 10:00 AM on October 7 at the Chapultepec Castle with or without the President and his cabinet.
Calderón’s eleventh hour reversal came just a week after the “Caravan to the South” –organized by Mexico’s peace and justice movement -- completed a two week, 3,900 kilometer loop through Mexico’s long-troubled and increasingly violent southeastern states. Led by Javier Sicilia and others who have lost loved ones in Mexico’s still expanding war, the 30 vehicle bus and car convoy plied the highways and back roads of Guerrero, Oaxaca, Chiapas, Tabasco and Veracruz. (Please find photos and further analysis of the Caravan following this update and on the People-to-People blog.)
Movement leaders, now back in Mexico City, had been preparing to meet with Calderón despite his stubborn insistence that his decisions to militarize the enforcement of drug prohibition is absolutely correct, or at least irreversible. Even with little or no visible progress, movement leaders were prepared to continue talks on a broad range of topics related to the war and its victims –until Calderón closed the door to dialogue.
Now the movement is planning an unprecedented gathering of war victims on October 7th. They will put their positions forward and announce new peace movement actions for Day of the Dead (Nov 2), Constitution Day (Nov 20), and beyond.
Please check the movement website for possible broadcast details for the Oct 7th events.
Also coming up in October is a month-long speaking tour with investigative journalists, John Gibler and Diego Osorno, on the political uses of the drug war. See the full listing of dates and locations of the tour.
Help us connect the dots to build a powerful movement for peace in Mexico north of the border. Visit our Mexico program page to see some of what we are doing and who we are working with to get it done.
Peace and Solidarity,
P.S. See NYTimes' recent profile on Javier Sicilia, "Can This Poet Save Mexico?"
Like the caravan that traveled through Mexico’s brutalized north to Ciudad Juarez last June, the caravan south was joined by hundreds of Mexicans determined to shine national attention on hidden sorrows and horrors caused both by long standing political repression in the south as well as the new national dynamics of criminal and state violence. Local organizations staged public marches and meetings, large and small, in the dozens of cities and towns the caravan visited. During these events, a specialized team set up tables to take testimony and give assistance to local citizens ignored by, ill-attended by, or too afraid to speak-up to local and other authorities.
For Micaela Cabañas Ayala, the link between past repression and today’s is painfully clear. She is the daughter of Lucio Cabañas the peasant school teacher turned guerrilla leader who was killed by the Mexican Army in the 1970s. But she joined the caravan as a victim of recent violence. Her mother Isabel Ayala and her aunt Reyna Ayala were killed on July 3 in Xaltianguis, outside of Acapulco. She and other family members are now seeking asylum in the U.S.
The caravan is an expression of a new movement, born of urgent necessity and led by victims. It is powered by resonant truths, spoken from the hearts of mothers, fathers, sister, daughters, sons, brothers, and others whose sorrow is compounded by the absence of justice and the infuriating corruption in Mexico’s judicial, police, and military institutions. The moral compass of these leaders is strong and accurate, but the complex and difficult task of connecting with and convincing their fellow citizens is incomplete.
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