Violence in Mexico starts with use of drugs and guns in the US, says activist
Mexican Poet Javier Sicilia urged the U.S. to take action on drug and weapon trafficking. (AFP/Getty Images)
The U.S. government needs to do more to help control the consumption of illegal drugs and the flux of weapons to Mexico, said the Mexican poet Javier Sicilia during panel in Washington on Thursday.
“I know the U.S. has a culture of arms,” Sicilia said before a group of mostly Latin America experts at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute, “but behind each and every one of your weapons, and behind your drug consumption, are our dead—and that’s a grave responsibility.”
Sicilia became the face of a citizen-led movement pushing for the end of violence in Mexico after his 24-year-old son was found murdered in Cuernavaca on March 28. The Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity in Mexico, as it is called, has organized several nationwide marches to showcase the population’s indignation at the lack of impunity in drug-related crimes.
More than 40,000 people have been killed in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon took office and declared war on drug cartels in 2006, according to government statistics. Others who don’t accept the government’s tally, including Sicilia, estimate the death toll exceeds 50,000.
“Ninety-eight percent of those cases are not resolved,” Sicilia said in Spanish. “That means justice is the exception, impunity the norm.”
The group—whose “¡Hasta la madre!” slogan translates loosely as “Fed up!”— has met twice with President Calderon and members of his cabinet to discuss citizen participation in the efforts against drug cartels, attention to victims, security and human rights.
Sicilia wants Mexico’s administration to shift its focus from combating the cartels to fighting corruption and impunity in drug war deaths. He has suggested the government pact with cartels to spare civilians and called for the legalization of certain drugs. The poet also wants more attention to go to youth and social services.
U.S. agencies have recently increased their involvement in Mexico’s drug war. In February, the Pentagon began flying drones over Mexico to collect information for Mexican law enforcement. The New York Times also reported this week that American agents have infiltrated the country’s most powerful criminal organizations.