09/13/12 – After nearly 6,000 miles of traveling through more than 25 different cities, the Caravan for Peace (Caravana por la paz) reached its final U.S. destination, Washington D.C., on Monday, September 10. The Caravan, composed largely of family members and friends of victims of drug-related violence in Mexico, began its binational journey when it crossed the border from Tijuana, Baja California, into San Diego back on August 12. The University of San Diego, which was among the group’s first stops in the United States, welcomed the Caravan by hosting a Spanish mass to reflect on the group’s upcoming journey, which was followed by a presentation and public forum led by the Trans-Border Institute (TBI) that featured Caravan for Peace leader Javier Sicilia and prominent Mexican writer Jordi Soler. (Read more about the Caravan’s visit with TBI here).
With over more than 50,000 deaths since President Calderón took office in 2006, members of the Caravan are calling for an end to the ‘war on drugs’ and a safer Mexico. They have taken to the streets, both in Mexico and now in the United States, to bring awareness to their cause and demand action from government officials. During its travels across the United States, Javier Sicilia and members of the Caravan, which is composed of roughly 100 individuals and supported by dozens of U.S.-based organizations, met with a number of government agencies and organizations, including Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s office in Arizona, a sheriff who is known for his strict regulations on immigration, which many critics have deemed as racist and discriminatory. As well, the Caravan created a stir in New York City by delivering fake blood-stained money to an HSBC Bank branch as part of a demonstration calling for the United States to do its part in stopping money laundering, gun smuggling, and drug consumption, all of which the Caravan points to as fuel for the on-going violence in Mexico. The final stop for the group was Washington, D.C., where it met with members of Congress on September 11, a day that began with a press conference led by Sicilia and guest speaker Gael Garcia Bernal, a famous Mexican actor and director who joined the Caravan to show his support. Sicilia also spoke with officials from both the State Department and White House, among other requests to meet with government officials including President Obama and Mexican Ambassador to the United States Arturo Sarukhan.
After a month of traveling and raising awareness about the Mexican security situation and the Caravan’s plight, Sicilia continued to reiterate the group’s mission in D.C., stating, “Our purpose is to honor our victims, to make their names and faces visible.” To read more about the Caravan’s travel’s, visit its website at http://www.caravanforpeace.org.