National Peace March ends in Mexico City Zócalo

[ Gringos Don’t Arm the Narco ]

x carolina

When the March for Peace with Dignity and Justice, headed by the poet Javier Sicilia, got to the Mexico City Zócalo at 4 o’clock in the afternoon on May 8, tens of thousands of people had joined the protest that left the National University campus at 8:30 that morning. Fed up with all the blood spilled in Felipe Calderon’s supposed war against drug traffickers, women, men, young people, children on foot or sometimes riding bicycles, and even quite a few babies in strollers, gradually filled the streets. The Mexico City police estimate an attendance of 65,000, while the march organizers say there were 200,000 demonstrators. One thing sure is that after 1 o’clock in the afternoon you could walk for several blocks in the middle of the march without seeing the beginning or the end of the river of people.

The Mexico City demonstration ended a march that began on May 5 in Cuernavaca, the city where Javier Sicilia’s son was found murdered along with six of his friends on March 29. Jorge Salinas of the independent telephone workers of the Other Campaign, reported that the march took place in silence and that there were a lot of gestures of supports from passing motorists on the highway.

Most of the Mexico City march also took place in silence. There were a lot of white balloons, banners and posters that said, “No more blood”, or “Not one death more”. A number of people did performances or informed people about the death, imprisonment of forced disappearance of their loved ones, as in the Tlaxcala case where family members were jailed by corrupt policemen, and due to the corruption of the courts, have been locked up for 9 years despite their innocence.

In a brief interview, one protester said: “Let’s not forget the case of those little boys, Martin and Bryan Almanza, shot and killed by the Mexican Army at a checkpoint in Tamaulipas a year ago when their family was on their way to an outing at the beach. And then there were the 10 high school kids murdered at a party in Juárez, reportedly by a drug cartel, but with so much police and military involvement in organized crime, you never know.”

Another demonstrator said: “I’m marching because I don’t think this is a war against drug traffickers. It’s a war on the Mexican people, a war on all of us. Do I think the National Security Law will give us any security? Hell, no. It’ll just give more power to the police. And where does all the violence come from? From those on top. From the police.”

Towards the end of the march you could hear drums and some people chanting, “Calderon, you liar, El Chapo is your partner.” And “We don’t want to be a United States colony. We want to be a free and sovereign nation.” In the zócalo, people shouted “Calderon, get out!” and there were also shouts of “Death to Calderon” although the march organizers didn’t approve.

Before the march left the University campus in the morning, Javier Sicilia had said that “if the violence doesn’t stop, we should resort to civil disobedience. We should have the guts to not back down, to refuse to pay taxes, to surround the Senate and House of Representatives until they listen to us.”

In the zócalo, the poet said: “With our presence, we’re naming the infamous reality that you, the political class, your power groups and your sinister monopolies, your hierarchies of economic and religious powers, your governments and police forces, have denied and continue to deny.” Sicilia accused all the political parties ––the PAN, PRI, PRD, PT, Convergence, New Alliance, PANAL, and Green Party–– of having “ties to crime and to their mafias throughout the nation.”

Speaking of United States policy, he said: “Their million dollar drug consumption market, their banks and money laundering enterprises, with the complicity of our own, and their arms industry ––more lethal, more overwhelming, and more expansive than the drug trade –– whose arms are sent to our land, not only strengthen the growth of crime groups, but also provide them with an immense capacity to wreak death and destruction. The United States has designed a security policy that fundamentally meets its global needs, and Mexico is trapped in this policy.

It’s important to note the role of the United States in propitiating State violence as well, through the military assistance of the Merida Initiative and the training of Mexican police and military forces for decades. One of the bloodiest groups involved in the drug trade is the Zetas, which was formed by deserters from the elite Special Forces Airborne Group (GAFES), the Special Forces Amphibious Group (GANFES) and the Paratroopers of the Mexican Army, trained at Fort Bragg in the United States to combat the Zapatistas in Chiapas in 1994. According to statements of ex Secretary of National Defense Ricardo Vega García, “the Zetas group is not only made up of military deserters, but also of ex state and local police.”

To the delight of the protestors gathered in the zócalo, Sicilia also asked for the resignation of the federal Security chief, Genaro García Luna, one of the main architects of the war that is tearing the Mexican society to pieces.

At the rally, activists Olga Reyes Salazar, whose family members were massacred in Chihuahua, and Patricia Duarte, the mother of one of the children burned to death in the ABC nursery, read a proposed pact that, among other things, calls for the investigation and resolution of forced disappearances, kidnappings, clandestine graves, human trafficking, and punishment for those responsible.

Ever since Sicilia sent his first open letter to the “politicians and criminals” of the country right after his son was killed, there has been a growing public response to his calls for mobilizations against violence. The first demonstration was held in Cuernavaca, Mexico City and at least ten other cities on April 6.

One response to the call for the national May 8 march came from the Revolutionary Indigenous Clandestine Committee, General Command of the EZLN: “ A few days ago, a father who is a poet began a silent journey along with other fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, relatives, friends, acquaintances, and human beings… These honest people are asking, demanding that the government come up with a plan for achieving the goals of life, freedom, justice and peace. Yet the government tells them it will keep right on with its plan, whose goals are death and impunity. These honest people don’t want to rule…Their struggle is not based on personal interests. It comes from the pain and suffering of losing a loved one who is as dear as life itself. The governments and politicians say that criticizing or not agreeing with what they’re doing is the same thing as supporting the criminals. The governments say that the only good strategy is to spill more blood in the streets and in the countryside of Mexico and to destroy families, communities, the entire country… These honest people are calling on us to struggle for life. And there can only be life if there is freedom, justice and peace. That’s why this is a struggle between those of us who want life and those who want death. And we, the Zapatistas, choose to struggle for life, or in other words, for justice, freedom and peace.”

On May 7, for the first time in the last five years, the EZLN, together with at least 15,000 supporters, marched in total silence to the main plaza of San Cristobal de las Casas.

Commander David read a message of support, which said in part: “We’re here today because people of noble hearts and steadfast dignity have called on us to demonstrate in order to stop the war that has filled Mexican soil with sadness, pain, and outrage… because we feel that we are called upon by the families of people who have been killed, wounded, mutilated, disappeared, kidnapped, and jailed even though they’re not the least bit guilty of any crime whatsoever. And this is what their words and their silences tell us: … That tens of thousands of people have died in this absurd war that leads to nowhere. That this war has as its main target innocent human beings from all social classes who have nothing to do with drug trafficking or government forces. That the evil governments ––all of them, federal, state, and local––, have turned the streets into war zones even though people who walk these streets and work on them do not agree and have no way of protecting themselves. That the evil governments have turned both public and private schools and universities into war zones and that children and young people aren’t entering classes, but ambushes by one side or the other. That gathering places supposedly for having a good time are now military targets. That simply going to work means feeling the anguish of not knowing what’s going to happen, of not knowing if a bullet from the gun of a criminal or a government agent will spill one’s own blood or that of a friend or family member. That the evil governments created the problem and have not only failed to resolve it, but have also broadened and deepened it throughout Mexico….

Demonstrations were also held in the following cities: Aguascalientes, Mexicali, Tijuana, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chihuahua, Cd. Juárez, Saltillo, Torreón, Colima, Durango, León, Celaya, Acapulco, Chilpancingo, Tula, Pachuca, Guadalajara, Valle de Bravo, Toluca, Morelia, Tepic, Monterrey, Oaxaca, Puebla, Querétaro, Chetumal, Cozumel, Cancún, San Luis Potosí, Hermosillo, Villahermosa, Ciudad Victoria, Tlaxcala, Xalapa, Veracruz, Córdoba, Mérida, Zacatecas, Houston, Dallas, Mesilla, San Francisco, New York, Montreal, London, Paris, Marsella, Barcelona, Frankfurt, Berlin, Hamburg, St. Andrés, Seattle, the Hague, Río de Janeiro, St. Paul, Austin, Bologna, Chicago, Toulouse, Donostia, Buenos Aires and Santiago.

To read a solidarity message from the Movement for Justice in the Barrio of New York in English, entitled, “As Immigrants, We’re Also Sick of this Shit,” see:

And for more news in Spanish from the political prisoners and solidarity prisoners of the Voice of Amate, actions in Xalapa and Oaxaca and from the different collectives and organizations that marched in Mexico City on May 5, see:

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