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Mexican Poet and Activist Javier Sicilia Calls for Change in U.S.-Backed Drug War with a Month-Long U.S. Peace Caravan

By Harriet Staff

We were all about Mexican poet and activist Javier Sicilia several months ago. Lucky for everyone, he is on the move. Over at Democracy Now, Amy Goodman interviews Sicilia about his tour of of the States–that’s right, he’s here, for “a month-long journey across the United States to call for an end of the U.S.-backed drug war.” More:

The caravan will criss-cross some 20 states to “call for change in the bi-national policies that have inflamed a six-year Drug War, super-empowered organized crime, corrupted Mexico’s vulnerable democracy, claimed lives and devastated human rights on both sides of the border.” The caravan is organized by Mexican poet-turned-activist Javier Sicilia, whose 24-year-old son, Juan Francisco, was murdered by drug traffickers last year. Javier Sicilia joins us from the tour, which has stopped in Phoenix, Arizona.

Sicilia was interpreted in his interview by translator and poet Jen Hofer. A video of the conversation and the full transcript is at Democracy Now. An excerpt:

AMY GOODMAN: Javier Sicilia, welcome to Democracy Now! Why have you come to the United States to challenge the drug war here, come from your country in Mexico?

JAVIER SICILIA: [translated] Because in the war against drugs, that has been continued by administrations that have followed Nixon’s, the United States plays a part in the responsibility for Calderón’s drug war. It began with narcotrafficking, drug trafficking, at the beginning of said administration. We believe that drugs are not a question of national security, but rather of public health. This is a war based on idiocy, the same as the prohibition against alcohol. In addition, North American weapons, weapons—very deadly weapons, assault weapons, through the Mérida Initiative, have armed the Mexicn military, as well as organized crime in Mexico. But it seems that a large part of the United States, the government of the United States, of Barack Obama, they don’t feel responsible for the situation. We are coming to say that they actually are responsible. Behind their addicts here in the United States, their weapons, are our dead. And we must construct a peace together, change this policy of war into a policy of peace, a path, a route of peace.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you feel is the most important issue the United States should take on right now? You have said that it’s from the United States that the drugs have come—the guns have come over the border into Mexico and where the drug demand is. The issue of guns and the issue of the demand for drugs, Javier Sicilia?

JAVIER SICILIA: [translated] Well, I think that it’s both of those things, in addition to money laundering, which has really not been addressed directly at all. So I think it’s not just one thing. It’s three things that go hand in hand. And in addition, this has provoked an incredible criminalization of African-American communities and also Latino communities. So it’s important to take up these questions, from our perspective, together…

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Posted in Poetry News on Monday, August 20th, 2012 by Harriet Staff.