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.