Wide Coalition Calls for National Mexico City “Stop the War” March on May 8
By Al Giordano
Flanked by mothers, fathers, children and siblings of many of Mexico’s most nationally visible victims of violence, and by leading religious figures, poet and journalist Javier Sicilia today called for a national silent march to Mexico City, to culminate on the national zócalo on Saturday, May 8, under the banner of: “Stop the War, for a Just Mexico in Peace: We Have Had It Up to Here!”
More than a thousand friends, community organizers and independent media makers attended the announcement on Cuernavaca’s zócalo (city square) at 6 p.m. tonight, some arriving an hour early for a Catholic Mass where in place of the traditional call-and-response of “Lord, Hear Our Prayer,” the faithful chanted, “Not One More Death.” The Catholic priests on stage invited Julian LeBaron, Mormon and father of eleven children, brother of an assassinated anti-kidnapping organizer in the northern state of Chihuahua, to read each line of the call.
Delivering the sermon, Father Miguel Concha said, “We are against this war, a war that is not ours, a war that is theirs in the North. They sell the arms, launder the money, make business out of it, and we provide the deaths… May the Lord accompany us on this march today for a dignified, free, sovereign and just Mexico.”
Liberation theology has been a long tradition in Mexico, but today’s announcement marked the first time that repeated speakers, including the secular ones, so heavily quoted Gandhi and King and so explicitly espoused “nonviolent action” as the strategy for a nascent social movement – against the war on drugs - with such heavy national media attention upon it. The closest thing this country – where armed revolutions and insurrections and their heroes have been fetishized to an extreme in which the iconography became as much product as protest - has ever had as an example of that kind of movement was among Mexican Americans across the border and the United Farmworkers movement launched by the late César Chávez. What may be brewing here is Mexico’s first ever expressly nonviolent civil resistance, poetically waged against the national tragedy of mass violence caused by the policy of drug prohibition.
As young people (they’ve been the principal engine of the movement’s activity since it sprang up after the March 28 deaths of Sicilia’s son and six others) erected 96 more plaques on the stone columns of the Governor’s Palace behind the stage – each with the name of someone assassinated in violence during 2011 in this state of Morelos – Sicilia called for the resignation of Governor Marco Adame and his appointees, to chants of “Out! Out!” and “May They All Go!”
But his announcement went way beyond the mere convocation of new marches.
“We are going to call you there (to the Mexico City Zócalo) and commit ourselves to sign a national authentic, genuine pact, without simulations or institutional signatures – those institutions that are already mere vestiges of what was a nation. We are going to call everyone to sign a pact in the center of the city that has been most hurt among hurts, in the center of Ciudad Juárez. There, in the open wound of the Northern border, we are calling so that you, who have squandered our money, have made decisions in our name without consulting us, have defrauded our trust and have put the country in a national emergency, that you sign a pact that allows us to recuperate the representation of the nation that has almost been lost and that you make the posts you hold count for something before it is too late.
“But we will go there also to say to ourselves, confronted with your omissions and complicities, that we, from below, can also organize ourselves, have constituent and reconstituent assemblies in every colony, in every neighborhood, in every community, to create create governability and local and trustworthy security.”
In other words, behind, before and after the marches and the mass meetings, the work soon shifts to the local decentralized level in which neighbors and townspeople assemble together to decide how each locale wants to make itself safe again, then together with those in the rest of the country write what is essentially a new Constitution without consulting those already in power who, after all, never consulted the people on whether it wanted a “war on drugs” and all the violence it has wrought. And after, and only after, that process will the politicians, bureaucrats and the other powerful interests be invited to sign the pact that the people shall write without them.
In other points of human history, organizing ventures like this have been called shadow governments, or parallel institutions. The conclusion is that the Mexican State has failed to function, the people will now create a new one, and then give the old one last chance to acquiesce to what the people decide. The other word for that, in history, is revolution.
A new sign that these sudden protests are already shaking down key pillars of support for "the drug war regime" came this morning in the resignation of nine of 16 board members of the government-allied "NGO," Mexico United Against Delinquency, a group that has provided cover for President Felipe Calderon's drug war by calling for more cops and soldiers and prisons and spending in the war against drug traffickers. Its director, Eduardo Gallo y Tello, whose daughter had been kidnapped in 2000 and made to do slave labor, cleaned out his desk at Mexico United in the morning, and by afternoon was on stage alongside Javier Sicilia and other families of victims of violence, issuing a fiery prosecution of a drug war "that has never defined what victory would look like."
Or, as Olga Reyes repeated to us today, excited at the decision to complete this process in her home state of Chihuahua from which her family and she now are exiled by drug war violence: “The Armed Forces couldn’t save us. Now it is the job of the Unarmed Forces.”