Gunmen armed with AR-15 and AK-47 assault rifles massacred thirteen people in a Torreón drug rehabilitation center on Wednesday. The massacre occurred less than twenty-four hours before poet Javier Sicilia and his Citizens Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity were scheduled to arrive in Torreón for a rally against the drug war. The rehabilitation center is located just three blocks from the rally site.
In this second part of the Americas Program interview with Javier Sicilia on the road with the Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity, we talk about the federal government’s response to the peace movement. Sicilia notes that President Calderon seems to be heading toward a military/police state and responding to the call for peace with violence.
The murder rate in Durango skyrocketed after President Felipe Calderón declared war on organized crime in late 2006. The number of executions soared 1,401 percent from 67 in 2005 to 939 in 2010. With 910 murders so far in 2011, Durango is set to surpass 2010’s murders by the end of June. When the Citizens Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity arrived in Durango on Monday night to protest the drug war, thousands of locals turned out to greet it.
In an interview with Americas Program director Laura Carlsen, Javier Sicilia called on the U.S. government to change its strategy and criticized the Merida Initiative as “an initiative that only has imagination for violence and war.”
Mexican human rights activists have issued an emergency appeal to apply international humanitarian standards in providing relief to more than 150 refugees- including at least 77 children-who have been camped out in the mountains of southern Mexico for more than a month.
By the middle of 1997 officials from Chiquita Brands International had grown nervous about the company’s increasingly long list of so-called “sensitive payments” in Colombia. For years Chiquita had been quietly paying off the leftist rebel groups that dominated the country’s banana-producing northern coast. But the balance of power was shifting away from the guerrillas and toward increasingly powerful paramilitary groups, and Chiquita’s security payments reflected this new reality. Thousands of dollars that previously had gone to guerrillas were being redirected to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a confederation of drug traffickers and right-wing death squads that promised to drive guerrilla influence from the region and seize control of the illegal narcotics trade.
Increasing anti-union practices on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border have spurred a revival of solidarity work over the last several decades. In this third article of David Bacon’s series ‘Building a Culture of Cross-Border Solidarity’, the author looks at the causes of this trend, the obstacles to it, and the power and potential of organizing across borders. All articles in this series were originally published in the Institute for Transnational Social Change report ‘Building a Culture of Cross-Border Solidarity’.