While the trailblazing Undocubus movement makes its way to North Carolina next week, we turn to yet another intrepid journey taking place along America’s southern border. Blazing a similar trail of solidarity and compassion, the Caravan for Peace represents activists on both sides of the border who have been touched, sometimes lethally, by the drug war and the rampant trade in illicit guns.
As a collaboration of various community and public interest groups, the Caravan launched in August as a sort of mobile protest against not only the militarized brutality of the anti-drug policies in the U.S. and Mexico, but also against the trade, immigration and regulatory systems that facilitate the traffic in drugs and weapons. The warfare has caused not only massive bloodshed and countless disappearances, but also undermined democracy and aggravated global inequality in the Western hemisphere.
The project originated as an initiative by the prominent Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, whose son recently became one of the tens of thousands of drug war casualties. After leading Caravans for Peace in Mexico, he partnered with activists with Global Exchange and other groups to bring the Caravan’s campaign across the border. It’s only natural that the Caravan travels through both Mexico and the U.S. This is a symbolic crossing of a precarious terrain that governments, trafficking networks and corporations have all manipulated to breed war and impunity. Reclaiming that site is a way of restoring power to communities that have been strip mined by drug warriors.
The immigrant rights struggle is deeply intertwined with the social crises produced by the drug war; drug war policies play into the militarization of the border, unjust restrictions on people’s movement (but not on the movement of guns and drugs, apparently), and the violence and social oppression that besiege migrants seeking escape.
The Caravan’s transnational route will cover some 6000 miles and go through “more than 25 cities and communities in ten states—including Los Angeles, Santa Fe, El Paso, Houston, Montgomery, New Orleans, Chicago and New York.” The journey includes various public events and demonstrations, and will conclude in Washington, DC, bringing the stories of suffering and resilience to the capital to demand an end to the domestic and foreign policies at the root of this terror.
An excerpt of the Caravan’s mission statement:
The Caravan represents one element of a broad strategy responding to Mexico’s violent national emergency resulting from Drug War policies (in Mexico and the U.S.) gone tragically wrong. The idea of the Caravan is to make Mexico’s national emergency tangible in the United States and to create a platform where those affected by the Drug War from Mexico, the U.S. and elsewhere can join their voices to inform public opinion on both sides of the border.
The U.S. Caravan’s mission is:
–To shine a light on the crisis of Drug War violence, impunity and human rights atrocities that are rending Mexico’s social fabric;
–To make the connections between the impacts of the Drug War in Mexico (violence, deaths and rise of organized crime) and in the U.S. (criminalization, incarceration, and life-long marginalization- disproportionately affecting African-American and Latino communities);
–To promote a civil society discourse with the American public and opinion leaders about the policies (easy access to assault weapons, militarization of drug enforcement and U.S. prohibition policies) at the root of the crisis; 2
–To foster collaboration and effective solidarity among a broad range of North American;
–Progressive, grassroots, religious, humanitarian and other organizations; and
–To leave, in the Caravan’s wake, informed, organized, and mobilized communities of activists who will pursue reform strategies in the near and long-term on both sides of the border.
CultureStrike’s Favianna Rodriguez, along with our partner organization Presente.org, are joining the Caravaneros and helping to document their sojourn. You can follow them live on their website, and see regular updates on their blog.
Whether it’s the police, the border patrol or the drug cartels pulling the trigger, countless families and youth have been caught in the cross fire and remain largely powerless to resist the relentless violence. That is, until people start reach out across borders, seeking justice as well as humanity, demanding protection for their communities as well as freedom from fear. Once the wheels start turning, the movement is unstoppable.