08/13/12 – On Sunday, August 12, Justice in Mexico welcomed Mexican anti-violence activist Javier Sicilia and the Caravan for Peace (Caravana por la Paz) to the University of San Diego (USD) as part of the launch of the Caravan’s travels, which will make its way to Washington, D.C. over the next month. The Caravan, which includes more than 100 people, many of whom are a family or friend of a victim of drug-related violence, crossed the border from Tijuana into San Diego earlier in the day, making a stop at Border Field State Park before traveling to USD where a Spanish mass was held in Founder’s Chapel to reflect on the Caravan’s journey. Afterwards, a public forum in the Kroc Institute of Peace and Justice was hosted to discuss the problem of violence in Mexico and the purpose of the group’s travels to the U.S. capitol.
Mr. Sicilia is an internationally recognized poet whose son, Juan Francisco, was murdered last year at the age of 24 in the state of Morelos. Following this tragedy, Mr. Sicilia was joined by thousands of other victims in launching the “Movement for Peace and Dignity,” which has mobilized hundreds of thousands of people in protests calling for authorities to end Mexico’s security crisis. The Caravan seeks to bring national and international attention to several major issues in U.S.-Mexico relations, including international drug policy, money-laundering operations, firearms trafficking, and the plight of migrants.
Justice in Mexico Director David Shirk took the unique opportunity of hosting Mr. Sicilia and the Caravan, whom Justice in Mexico has reported on in the past, to present information and statistics related to the drug-violence in Mexico compiled through the Justice in Mexico Project (JMP). Most notably, he announced the launch of the JMP’s Victims and Violence Monitor (Monitor de Víctimas y Violencia), which documents homicides related to drug trafficking and organized crime in Mexico using information publicly reported by professional news sources. TBI has already collected more than 1,800 individual cases of victims, 70% of which included the person’s name and in most cases other identifying characteristics like age, gender, location, weapon used, etc. (To contribute to the documenting and research efforts, please click here). Following Dr. Shirk’s presentation, he was joined onstage for further comments and reflections by Mr. Sicilia and guest Jordi Soler, the latter a Mexican writer who joined the Caravan for Peace in San Diego to show his support of the movement. Justice in Mexico concluded the forum with the presentation of a symbolic peace dove to Mr. Sicilia, a gift conferred on behalf of the Kroc School of Peace Studies.
A link to the full video of the public discussion can be found here, while the Justice in Mexico powerpoint presentation is located here. David Shirk’s discussion with KPBS regarding Sicilia, drug violence in Mexico, and the United States’ role in the matter can be found here. The full itinerary and schedule of activities for the Caravan’s San Diego visit and other portions of the journey to Washington, D.C. are available here.