|English | Español||February 21, 2017 | Issue #67|
The Urgency of Organizing in the Young Mexican Movement Against the War on Drugs
After Eight Months of Struggle, the Death of Nepomuceno Moreno Obliges the Peace Movement to Reflect and Train Leaders
By Marta Molina
Nepomuceno Moreno in the Southern Caravan with photos of his son on his placard. DR 2011 Isolda Osorio
On May 9, the 600 marchers arrived at the national capital’s Zócalo (city square) which was filled by tens of thousands of people tired of the war policy unleashed since 2006 by the government of Felipe Calderón. Nepo was no longer alone in his struggle. He found tens of thousands of “Nepos,” warm hearts ready to struggle and unite to seek justice. He was touched by the death of Juan Francisco Sicilia and moved by his father, Javier Sicilia, in this march that signaled a new way to walk again, together, for the Mexican people.
Nepo, before joining the movement, had spent a year denouncing the forced disappearance of his son Jorge Mario Moreno León who, he said, was detained on July 1, 2010 by Sonora state police near Ciudad Obregón. Don Nepo had begun a campaign with the goal of accusing the Governor of Sonora, Guillermo Padrés Elías, seeking a hearing to present his case. He stated publicly that he had received death threats and had sought protection from the authorities. He was never received by the governor, nor was his case adjudicated.
From the first march, he decided to join the Caravan of Solace to the North of the country in its stop in Durango. There we saw him for the first time, the capital city Durango’s central square, with his two-sided placard in demanded a response: “Authorities of Sonora: Where are our children?”
From that day, June 6, that side of the placard was joined with another in which a photograph of his son Jorge Mario and also of his three friends (José Francisco Mercado Ortega, disappeared, Mario Enrique Díz Islads, assassinated, and Geovani Otero, disappeared, all on that same July 1). He was never without his placard. He turned it from side to side to unify the urgent message: “Where are our children?”
The message of Don Nepo resonated with the words of Julián LeBaron that same night in Durango: “Where is the government? Where is the authority? …I believe it is time that we start asking different questions, before these banners of our sons and daughters, brothers and parents, are of us. Where are we? We are 112 million Mexican citizens. Where are we?” From June 6 onward Nepo never let go of the movement.
Javier Sicilia with Nepomunceno Moreno during the Southern Caravan’s visit to the Good Government Council in Oventic, Chiapas.DR 2011 Moyses Zuñiga
Sicilia’s words reminded of some of the first emblems of the early mobilizations against the war: “We are all Juan Francisco Sicilia” and “We are all the poet’s sons.” Today, many members of the movement feel the same identification with Nepo (many have added his name to their own in their Facebook and social network accounts, for example).
The Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, in a communiqué, wrote that Nepomuceno said he “was resigned to struggle alone against the government of Sonora. They won’t see me. They laugh at me. Before that I went to the Army base to denounce the kidnapping of my son. I wrote letters to the special prosecutor on organized crime and nobody paid any attention at all until I joined the peace movement. I see that social organizations have the power to make President Calderon sit down at a table of dialogue and that the state attorneys general are obligated now to receive us to reopen the investigations.”
Nepomuceno Moreno during the second meeting with the President of Mexico in the Castle of Chapultepec on October 14.
From Guadalajara, the poet Sicilia referred to the assassination of Nepomuceno as “a chronicle of an announced death. He was present in the meeting we had with President Calderon and in front of everyone he said, ‘Mr. President, I seek my son and I have been threatened with death.’ He also told the same to the governor of Sonora. In fact, we asked the governor to protect him. And he was shot in cold blood.”
“It’s worth more for me to die taking a stand,” Nepo said. And that’s what happened in the end. But his pain, his solace, his hope, his struggle, united with those of thousands of Mexicans during the Caravan of the North. It was the second poetic act of the citizenry; to dare to travel the “route of pain” through the cities and towns of the north where more blood had been spilled. And most important, in this caravan, warm hearts of the movement grew larger but maintained cool heads to continue walking. In spite of that the pain was greater with each step, in spite of that, the farther north it moved, the more bone-chilling testimonies of deaths and disappearances were added to the solace and pain, they continued advancing all the way to El Paso, Texas.
Nepo had become an organizer. Thanks to him and his persistence cases of others assassinated and disappeared in his native Sonora were reopened. As LeBaron said in Durango, Nepo understood that “the solution is in our hands.”
Nepomuceno Moreno with Socorro Vázquez Zamora and Maria Herrera (on right.) in the Isthmus of Oaxaca, during the Southern Caravan.DR 2011 Marta Molina
Nepo was there when Javier Sicilia placed a plaque on the sidewalk at the entrance to the Chihuahua government palace with the name of Marisela Escobedo. In Sicilia’s words that same day “a plaque should be put up with the names of the hundreds of dead (in Chihuahua)… It is a reminder to the authorities that the death of Marisela is their responsibility and that they owe her, her daughter and hundreds of victims and destroyed families the justice that they deserve.”
That day Sicilia called upon Mexican citizens to place plaques in every plaza in the country, as they did the first time in the zócalo of Cuernavaca. It is now the hour to erect a plaque to Don Nepo in front of the halls of government in Hermosillo, Sonora.
The communal farmer Pedro Leyva Domínguez, representative of the Nahua people of Santa María Ostula on the coast of Michoacán to the MPJD – who also took part in the June dialogue with Calderon – was assassinated on October 6. In Leyva’s words, “We must struggle, come what may, whatever happens, no matter who opposes us. A struggle is not easy. It’s tiring economically, physically and emotionally. They want to make us afraid with their weapons and their apparatus of power. But we don’t need fear. We have to struggle without fear for our land, for our freedom, for our dignity.” Leyva asked, with those words, that in spite of the aggressions the people must prepare themselves to struggle together and in an organized way.
On Tuesday, December 6, a caravan of observers from the Movement for Peace was attacked while heading toward Santa María Ostula upon leaving the community of Xayakalan, Michoacán when four unidentified subjects, wearing ski masks and heavily armed, kidnapped Trinidad de la Cruz Crisóforo, known as “Trino,” another communal farmer of Ostula who traveled together with a dozen members of the movement. The following day he was found dead.
Also on December 6, at night, Eva Alarcón and Marcial Bautista, defenders of the environment in the Sierra of Petatlán and Coyuca de Catalán, and participants in the movement’s Southern Caravan who had asked for protection due to threats they had received, were forced to get off a bus to Chilpancingo and were kidnapped.
In the last two weeks the attacks on human rights defenders have increased. To the assassination of Nepomuceno is added the case of Norma Ledesma – human rights defender, especially of women, since the 2001 disappearance of her daughter – who was hit by five bullets, the assassination of Trino and the kidnapping of Eva and Marcial.
Amidst all this harassment and terror there is also the case of the Morlett family, the father and mother of young Adriana, who also accompanied the National Peace March on May 8 and the Southern Caravan of September. They have been searching for their missing daughter who was found dead on November 30. In the words of Teresa Carmona and through her profound pain: “Adriana studied architecture at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM, in its Spanish initials). She disappeared one month after the murder of my son Joaquín, which was one year, to months and 24 days ago. Today we learn that Adri had been dead for a year, in peace. I hope that her parents and family and friends can rest now and say goodbye to their girl. I’m so sorry.”
Joaquín, Adriana, Juan Francisco and Jorge Mario are some of the children killed or disappeared in Mexico. We know their names because their parents fought for them and the Movement for Peace will continue seeking justice for those who, like Nepomuceno, can no longer do it for themselves.
The death of Nepo and the events of recent weeks necessarily have brought the peace movement to a place of self-criticism. No one is invincible, not even a convoy to accompany the citizenry to Ostula. Training and organization and, as Araceli Rodríguez said at the December 7 press conference of the movement “the implementation of some security protocols for ourselves” are now more necessary than before.
Nepo had to go to Mexico City with his family two days prior to his tragic murder. Although his house was surrounded by local and state police and federal army soldiers, “he felt more unsafe than ever” according to his friends, also family members of victims who work with the MPJD.
At six p.m. that same November 28, members of the Movement for Peace, indignant over Nepo’s assassination decided to go to the State of Sonora’s offices in the national capital of Mexico City to demand a response and also protection for his family and so that his son, in prison, would be able to attend the funeral. In a sudden action about one hundred movement members came together there.
That afternoon, a man from the state of Puebla came for the first time to talk with members of the movement. He is a father whose daughter was disappeared last summer and later found dead. Another father who, like so many, moved heaven and earth to find his daughter and pledged that day that “if the prosecutor of Puebla doesn’t find the guilty parties, I will.” Now he places his faith in the movement. And like him, people come every day in search of help and understanding and to, with the movement, begin to organize.
More than ever, they need to keep cool heads to continue organizing with victims and seek justice for all the deaths and disappearances to end, finally, the war on drugs that is provoking so much death.
Nepo’s family didn’t want him to participate in the movement but according to him it was the only path to “seek what I don’t find in my state; justice, solidarity and solace. I demonstrated outside of my house, with the placard as cars and police vehicles passed. And I told them: This is how the government represses you when you are fighting for your son after they were the ones who kidnapped him.”
“I have no hope left of finding him alive. Even still, we have to unite ourselves because this is something that is not going to stop. I ask my family to understand. Maybe I will fall on this path…”
Upon completing the Southern Caravan, Nepo decided to cover his two-sided placard with the photos of his son that he so proudly showed to all the journalists and members of the caravan who traveled with him. With those photos he covered his complaint against the authorities of Sonora. Now he had an entire movement fighting for the same thing.
Members of the movement, following the same impulse that caused them to find each other, must find a way to surpass these crises to do what all successful nonviolent resistance movements have done: nonviolence training, community organizing and the establishment of protocols of how to proceed against other possible attacks, assassinations and disappearances in the future and construct a new strategy that works to amplify the number of leaders who convert this pain into a new national policy. All that, without losing sight of the goal that brought them together to struggle: the end to the war on drugs, the epicenter of all the pain.
As Teresa Carmona said, “they killed each of us a little but it is also true that Nepo lives within each of us, like Joaquín, Pedro, Adriana and all the victims of this atrocious war. ‘The struggle is long, there is no need to lose hope’ is what Antonio of the sacred land of Acteal told us. The path of Nepo is our path.”
- The Fund for Authentic Journalism