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Mexicans Mobilize Against the Drug War

Hundreds of Mexicans began a three day march yesterday to protest the death and violence of the failed drug war.

The national protest movement was formed last month after the murders of several innocent young people, including the son of Mexican poet and journalist Javier Sicilia. Mr. Sicilia joined family members of other drug war victims yesterday in leading a silent protest march from Cuernavaca to Mexico City. The march will culminate in a convergence on the capital’s Z?calo (main square) on Sunday, May 8 ? when protests are also planned in dozens of other Mexican cities and in New York, California, Maryland, Texas, Virginia and several other U.S. states.

“The brutal assassination of my son, Juan Francisco?is added to so many other boys and girls who have been assassinated just the same throughout the country,” Mr. Sicilia wrote last month in a public letter that catalyzed the national mobilizations. “We will go out into the street because we do not want one more child, one more son, assassinated.”

To see Javier Sicilia’s call to the people of Mexico to honor those who have been killed in the drug war, and to participate in the national days of action from May 5-8th, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_CiKzttxMQ

Meanwhile, a coalition of over two dozen organizations in the United States is joining the protesters in calling for a new strategy.

Our organizations collectively express our solidarity and support for the national days of action in Mexico against the drug war, and extend our deepest sympathies to those who have lost loved ones in the tragic violence. We hope that people on both sides of the border, including Presidents Obama and Calderon, begin a serious discussion about alternatives to this unwinnable war without delay.

In an open letter, the coalition emphasizes that prohibition has failed to reduce drug use while generating and intensifying violence, corruption and human rights abuses in Mexico on a horrific scale. The groups ? made up of experts and advocates in drug policy and Latin American affairs ? call for critical reforms in Mexico and the U.S. Such policy changes include judicial and police reform and better human rights protections in Mexico, and greater efforts to curb the southward flow of arms and reduce drug demand in the U.S.

Among the reforms urged by the coalition is an open debate about alternatives to drug prohibition, which is the root cause of the violence that has killed nearly 40,000 people in Mexico in four years. The letter implores the U.S. to “reform its failed prohibitionist drug policies.” As a first step, the organizations advocate the taxation and regulation of marijuana, which could significantly diminish the profits of violent traffickers.

“Above all, we call upon the United States, Mexico and the international community to begin an open, honest and public debate about remedying the failures of drug prohibition,” the open letter reads. “Out of respect for the people of Mexico, who have borne the highest cost of this war’s failure, we must put all options on the table for a new strategy.”

Full text of the open letter is available at: http://www.drugpolicy.org/Mexico-Sign-On.

Daniel Robelo is a research associate at the Drug Policy Alliance (www.drugpolicy.org)

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