By Witness for Peace Mexico Team
“I’ve been looking for my son for a year and one month! Do those of you who haven’t lost a child know the pain you feel when you lose a child!? Of course you don’t!”
These were some of the painful words shared at the First National Gathering of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD by its Spanish initials), which was held in Cuernavaca Mexico on April 21-22nd. The movement had just marked its one year anniversary earlier in the month. It was founded by nationally recognized author and poet, Javier Sicilia, who became a grieving parent in March 2011 when his son along with five of his friends and another woman were brutally murdered and found in the trunk of a car. Since founding the MPJD, Sicilia has united drug war victims across the country. Many have loved ones who were disappeared or murdered in the last few years.
As a result of the Movement’s efforts, names and faces have been given to the estimated 60,000 people who have been killed since the war against organized crime was launched in December of 2006. Marches, caravans, and dialogues with authorities, including President Felipe Calderon, have all been tactics employed by the nascent movement.
At the gathering in Cuernavaca, over 150 members and supporters discussed the current state of the country. In addition, the two days were spent working to develop strategies for the MPJD’s future as Mexico’s most prominent voice speaking out against the drug war violence, the militarized approach on the part of the Mexican government, and the role of the United States in terms of arms trafficking, drug consumption, and money laundering.
Over the course of the two-day gathering, the Witness for Peace Mexico Team had a chance to listen to and document the personal testimonies of those directly affected by the violence. Interviews were also conducted with other concerned citizens who make up the Movement for Peace as well.
You can listen to the voices of the people who make up the Movement in the following interviews and testimonies:
Interview with Margarita Sierra, a local activist from Guadalajara Jalisco working to promote peace and supporting victims in her city
Interview with Marco Castillo, a migrant/immigrant’s rights defender who supports the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity
In Spanish with English transcription:
Interview with Araceli Rodriguez, mother of a federal policeman who was disappeared in the state of Michoacan
Interview with Margarita Lopez, mother of a young woman who was disappeared near the city of Oaxaca
Interview with Ricardo Bermeo Padilla, a sociologist and professor from the state of Zacatecas who describes the links between U.S. policies and their impacts in Mexico as well as Colombia
Testimonies 1, 2, 3 and 4 from the closing plenary session. During the session, discussion and debate arose amongst personal testimonies from those who have lost someone in the generalized violence of the country. One point of debate was the motto of the movement “Estamos hasta la madre!” which is a much stronger way of saying “We’ve had it up to here!” Some women in attendance considered the slogan to be offensive towards women and offered alternative phrases. Another point of debate was the issue of dialoging with the government authorities or not. In testimonies 1-4 we have the voices and opinions of those people involved in the Movement for Peace, including parents still searching for their disappeared children.
To see the full set of interviews and testimonies, please click here. Some files are in English, others are in Spanish with accompanying English transcripts in the file’s description section.
For more stories and photos from the gathering, see this earlier blog from the Mexico Team.