Caravan for Peace to stop in Jackson


By Bill Chandler

Jackson Advocate Contributing Writer

The Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity is scheduled to arrive in Jackson on Tuesday, August 28th to call for an end to the drug war that has killed 70,000 in Mexico and incarcerated tens of thousands in the U.S. Mexican poet Javier Sicilia and other victims from Mexico and the U.S. are making a 6,000-mile journey through 20 cities, culminating Sept. 10th on International Day of Action in Washington D.C

The caravan will arrive at the State Capitol in time for a 12 noon press conference by the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance (MIRA). At 2:30 p.m., a community forum will be held in Room 216 of the old Supreme Court chamber on the second floor of the Capitol. Moderated by MIRA President, Rep. Jim Evans, the forum is intended to remember lives suspended and lost to the failed drug war on both sides of the border, including Mississippi.

According to organizers, “Most people are unaware that along with economic devastation, violence drives people away from their homelands. U.S. consumers drive the violent competition between the drug cartels, more properly defined as drug corporations, which have affected all communities throughout the U.S. The so-called ‘War on Drugs’ has not stopped consumption in the U.S., but has been used more as an excuse to enact harsh laws that has resulted in our country having more people locked up than any other country—even China.”

MIRA officials believe the only people who profit from this are the for-profit prison corporations who constantly lobby for increased penalties and more prisons, at the expense our families especially in communities of color. “Further, it has been used to manipulate the economic and political dynamics in Mexico, Colombia and other Latin American countries,” added Kathy Sykes, a MIRA spokesperson. Javier Sicilia emerged as a leader of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD) after his son Juan Francisco was killed in senseless prohibition-related violence last year.

Since then, the MPJD has undertaken similar caravans across Mexico to collect stories of the destruction caused by the war against drugs and organized crime. Through these caravans, victims have expressed in their own voices the drug war’s disastrous consequences. “Our purpose is to honor our victims, to make their names and faces visible,” Sicilia said. “We will travel across the United States to raise awareness of the unbearable pain and loss caused by the drug war – and of the enormous shared responsibility for protecting families and communities in both our countries.” Since 2006, Mexico has experienced unprecedented pain: more than 70,000 people have been killed and more than 10,000 have disappeared in violence resulting largely from the failure of drug prohibition. The drug war has produced painful consequences in the United States as well, especially the mass incarceration of non-violent people – overwhelming people of color.