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The Voices of Victims tour led by Mexican drug war victims ended last week after headlining events in 11 U.S. and Canadian cities spotlighting the human costs of violent prohibition and mass incarceration strategies -- and the urgent need for sensible alternatives.

For the last leg of the tour, the stories of victims were heard all over Washington, DC. From the White House to Capitol Hill, frank dialogue was a hallmark throughout. Speaking bluntly to policymakers, Javier Sicilia stressed how we must fundamentally change U.S. backed policies of militarized prohibition that are driving a human rights disaster throughout the region.

At a meeting hosted by the Organization of American States (OAS) at a panel to discuss the report on “Scenarios for the Drug Problem in the Americas 2013-2015,” published earlier this year, Javier admonished the OAS, and the governments it serves, to act quickly, accelerating what he sees as “timid” steps toward change.

On Capitol Hill, the Voices tour joined allies from the Mesoamerican Working Group (MAWG) to speak at a briefing hosted by New Mexico Congresswoman, Michelle Lujan Grisham. Participants spoke about the gruesomely negative impact of the drug war on human security, human rights, and democracy in Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico.

Congressman, Beto O’Rourke from El Paso, TX spoke out strongly for an end to prohibition-as-we-know-it, making a spontaneous presentation that reflected his experience living in and representing a district that borders Mexico’s most violent city, Ciudad Juarez.

Leaving the U.S. Capitol, the tour traveled south to Jackson, Missisippi for the final event. It featured a conversation about how to build a cross border movement to end the drug war between Javier Sicilia and Michelle Alexander, the author of The New Jim Crow, the bestselling book that demystifies the iron links between the drug war, mass incarceration, and the American caste system it helps perpetuate.

Michelle Alexander and Javier Sicilia agreed that the damage done by the drug war in various countries has a common source in our deeply militarized and misguided prohibition policies. Both Michelle and Javier are models of courage and determination to speak unpopular truths. They agreed to work together to build the international movement and consensus on the urgent need to rethink and build a movement to undo the militarization of the drug war.

They agreed that it was critical to assure that the voice of victims be represented at policy discussions and that those impacted by the war on drugs are vital by sharing their stories and their policy recommendations.

Please help us continue to support these courageous advocates of drug policy and gun safety reforms on both sides of the border.

Thanks to all the people and organizations for their support for the past month and we look forward to collaborating in the future. 

Ted Lewis
Human Rights Director

Global Exchange
We are an international human rights organization dedicated to promoting social, economic and environmental justice around the world.
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