The “Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity” started almost 2 weeks ago in San Diego. The month long trip across the country will wind up in Washington, D.C. September 12, and will be joined by police officers and other law enforcement officials, who say the drug war has been a failure.
Jannell Robles works for the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition and is coordinating the caravan’s stop here in Houston. She says they want to draw attention to what they say are misguided anti-drug policies in both the U.S. and Mexico.
“How can we change those policies here in the U.S., related to drug policies, human immigration reform, money laundering, foreign aid, which goes overwhelmingly to military in Mexico, and also to arms trafficking. 80 percent of the arms that Mexico receives are from the U.S.”
The caravan is led by Mexican peace activist Javier Sicilia, whose son was killed by drug gang members last year. Robles says the ripple effect has resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of lives in Mexico due to the war on drugs.
“Some of these policies are certainly affecting us domestically, especially with our communities of color. If we don’t have human immigration reform, we’re constantly deporting persons back to Mexico or back to Central America, to places that are very violent.”
Local community activist Hope Sanford says instead of curbing drug use or supply, the war on drugs has actually enriched warring drug cartels. She says there needs to be a peaceful, bi-national conversation on the issue, a first step in fixing the problem.
“If this was a workable plan, it would have worked years and years and years ago. It’s a failed plan. Two, take a good hard look at prohibition and the fact that it’s failed. Certainly decriminalize, at least marijuana and work up from there, because if it is all in the hands of people who are beyond the touch of the law, this just continues.”
Members of the caravan will will hold a candlelight vigil Sunday evening at Rothko Chapel, to honor the tens of thousands of victims of what’s being called the longest and deadliest war in U.S. history.