By Moravia de la O International Team – Mexico Witness for Peace
This evening thousands of demonstrators will take to the streets all over Mexico in an outright rejection of the current drug war strategy that has already claimed the lives of almost 35,000 people.
The protest comes on the heels of a report on enforced or involuntary disappearances in which the United Nations urged President Felipe Calderon to withdraw military troops from anti-drug operations. For three years the United States has financed and trained the Mexican military to combat drug trafficking and organized crime. The report estimates that since 2006 there have been about 3,000 forced disappearances in the country.
Leading the call for a drastic transformation of the current method of fighting drug cartels are those who have been directly affected by the increasing violence. Noted intellectual and poet Javier Sicilia’s 24-year-old son Juan Francisco was murdered last week in Cuernavaca while leaving a restaurant with 5 of his friends. Last Sunday, Javier Sicilia published an open letter to politicians and criminals alike, voicing his frustration with the former for their inability to unify and pass meaningful reform, and with the latter for the senseless and demonic violence they have perpetrated on the population.
Sicilia closed the letter with a call for peaceful protests in Cuernavaca and across the country to show a united front “because we do not want one more child, one more son, assassinated.”
It’s clear that the tide of popular opinion is turning in the war against drugs in Mexico. As more and more communities are torn apart by violence and fear, Mexicans of all walks of life are calling for an end to the militarized approach to combating drug cartels and organized crime. In a February poll conducted by the newspaper El Universal, half of those interviewed felt that there needs to be a change in the drug war strategy.
Despite all the evidence to the contrary, the Mexican and U.S. governments insist that they are winning the drug war. Speaking yesterday at the opening ceremony for the International Conference for Drug Control in Cancun, Michelle Leonhart, director of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), stated that the increase in violence is a sign that the current strategy is working.
It is time that the U.S. recognize the failure of the war it is funding through the Merida Initiative. And it is time for the U.S. government to pay attention to the Mexican people and change course.