You’d be forgiven for thinking that the center of the drug war exists in Washington, D.C. With all the bloviating, all the Congressional handwringing, all the dissimulating by the White House’s Drug Czar, Gil Kerlikowske and all the hardheadedness of the DEA head Michelle Leonhart, the power of prohibition does seem to lie within the DC Beltway.
But what is going on in Cuernavaca, a city south of Mexico City? And how does it concern youth and students who oppose the drug war?
First, the context: in Cuernavaca, at March’s end the son of a somewhat famous poet and writer — Juan Francisco Sicilia, father Javier Sicilia — died in despicable circumstances, along with six of his friends, all of whom were dumped in a car in Cuernavaca. In his anguished wrath, Javier Sicilia blamed Felipe Calderon’s failure of a drug war. With 35,000 dead and his son and friends more statistics, Sicilia projected publicly a letter to the president which protested all violence, repeating time and again that they were all fed up with a type of imagination in public life that led only to death.
Sicilia soon commanded a massive social movement, whose first action, a march in Cuernavaca, attracted more people than at any time in its history. At the march, Sicilia called for national and international marches against violence and the drug war at the beginning of May.
A vibrant, viable social movement comprised of youth and students has emerged within this context. Last weekend, on 28 and 29 April, youth and students from all over Mexico convened an emergency national congress. In a post from the Americas MexicoBlog, on-the-ground-correspondents reported the proceedings and an outcome. What emerged was a complex document that defines what Mexican youth and students want from their government.
Among other things, the document demands reforms in the following areas:
- Immediate Demilitarization: The War on Drugs is a War Against the People; Its US origins violate Mexican national solidarity; Youth have already won a major victory, curbing national military service and converting it to social service.
- End the Violence and Impunity: The systemic violates human rights, and negatively affects women, young girls and boys, and youth.
- Decriminalization of Drug Consumption: The drug war must be seen as a public health problem; legalization must be debated, and prohibition opposed as it enriches the political class and drug traffickers.
- Lives with Dignity: Death lives among urban and rural marginalized populations, neoliberal policies have inflicted instability and misery in people’s lives, making them move, making low-level drug trafficking a survival strategy.
- Art and Culture for All: Decommodifying artistic and cultural expressions.
- Education: Guaranteed access for all and policies that promote human liberation tied to creativity.
The Youth Declaration embraces a new type of anti-prohibition, an anti-violence strategy national in scope and local in significance. It defines the next steps to follow in order to secure the objectives, outlined above.
– Convene a plural, inclusive, democratic space to discuss and construct the proposal of our Pact for Rebuilding the Nation on May 9 at 10 in the morning at the Journalists’ Club (Club de Periodistas) in Mexico City
– Propose to the new forum that a national body be formed to struggle for Peace with Justice and Dignity
– Organize mobilizations at the headquarters of the institutions responsible for the war
– Occupy symbolic spaces and build organizing centers with regular activities that allow us to have a presence and be a point of reference in the fight for Peace with Justice and Dignity
– Build a strategy to consolidate this process we’ve begun today based on the following initiatives.
– Convene a national meeting in Ciudad Juarez within the framework of the Signing of the Pact, which would follow up on youth networking and organizing
– Convene Committees for Peace with Justice and Dignity in every school, neighborhood, community or work center
– Convene a second Youth Meeting for Sept. 1-3 at UNAM’s University City
– Pay homage to the children and mothers killed in the armed conflict on May 10 in Mexico City’s Zocalo
-National Art and Culture Festival for Peace in Mexico, along with a protest march
– Organize an international academic forum for discussion of the armed conflict and the social problem at its root.
No conclusion yet exists to summarize what is happening in Mexico. The Mexican population of various generations and in various parts of the country seems fed up with Washington’s security discourse, promoted by the Calderon government. Something IS happening here. And what is happening stands directly in contrast to the drug war policy objectives of Barack Obama’s government.