<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
 English | Español August 15, 2018 | Issue #67

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Opening Statement, April 18, 2000
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Nonviolent Struggle Arrives in the Lands of Guerrero, Mexico

20,000 March in Acapulco with Javier Sicilia and Drug War Victims

By Marta Molina
Special to The Narco News Bulletin

September 14, 2011

Acapulco woman walking with the march along the Costera.DR 2011 Isolda Osorio.
Acapulco was the final stop of the Caravan of Peace in the state of Guerrero, Mexico on Saturday September 10. More than 20,000 people flooded Costera Aleman Avenue marching for peace below a punishing sun. A river of people, many of them dressed in white as a symbol of peace, walked along this avenue parallel to the sea and arrived at the old city square where they welcomed Sicilia.

The state of Guerrero, throughout its history, has been witness to guerrilla movements that have waged armed struggled against an authoritarian state. Here, everyone remembers the names of Genaro Vásquez (1931-1972) and Lucio Cabañas (1931-1974), two schoolteachers who converted the famous leftist doctrine that “the masses must be educated for the revolution” into one of “organize the masses to make the revolution.” Other sectors of the national left in Mexico who believed that the people had to be educated in strict ideological doctrine before rebelling, and who did not favor or understand the Guerrero teachers’ heavy emphasis on community organization as part of their armed struggle, did not support their movement.

Javier Sicilia, in a press conference in the city of Iguala, Guerrero, earlier on Saturday, made reference to the two assassinated guerrilla leaders in the region, mentioning that they defended “unquestionable causes” and “their struggle ended their lives.” The poet, before the press and more than 500 people accompanying him on this caravan through the Mexican South, repudiated the deaths of Cabañas and Vásquez “as I would the death of any human being” and “even more so because of the hatred that others had for men who fought for justice is still aimed against members of their families.”

March of Peace in Acapulco. DR 2011 Isolda Osorio.
Micaela Cabañas Ayala, daughter of the late guerrilla later Lucio Cabañas, implored for her own safety after the July 3 assassination of her mother Isabel Ayala and her aunt Reyna Ayala in the town of Xaltianguis in the municipal zone of Acapulco. After receiving various death threats, she sought political asylum for her family and her. Sicilia called upon the Mexican government and human rights organizations to “guard the life of this daughter, who is a testimony of humanity and also of dignity.”

In this state whose name, Guerrero, means “warrior,” the message Sicilia gave was explicitly for nonviolent action that respects others and rejects the death of any human being. It is not easy that such a message takes root in a state where, according to social organizations in Iguala, there have been 2,666 cases of violence in six years, including 299 disappearances and 1,365 murders. Yet this message has begun to filter through not only through Sicilia but also through other drug war victims that accompanied the Caravan in the Mexican North last May and that now unites them in the South, such as Maria Herrera, mother of four sons who have been disappeared.

Maria spoke in public for the first time June 6 in Morelia, Michoacán, in the first stop of the Northern Caravan and referred to herself as “a humble person who has no training, but the pain and impotence forces me to speak.”

Today, Maria is a mother of tremendous strength, who has converted her pain into action and has grown with the movement. It was Maria who gave a lesson in nonviolence during her remarks Saturday from the stage in the state capital of Chilpancingo, Guerrero, thanks to, in her words, “Mr. Sicilia, who is showing us the path to peace.” And she travels with the caravan learning, acting and doing.

María Herrera, on stage in Cuernavaca September 9 when the Caravan of Peace headed toward the Mexican South, holding a banner with the faces and names of her four disappeared sons. DR 2011 Marta Molina.
Two of her sons were disappeared in Atoyac de Alvarez, Guerrero on August 28, 2008. Two more sons were disappeared in the state of Veracruz. This mother seeks her four sons in the midst of this national war. Although she accepts that hearing the name of Guerrero bothers her heart, she spoke directly to the parents of the delinquents who took her sons and publicly offered to hug them. She also addressed the government saying it, too, is guilty of the violence that Mexico lives today, but that it is not the only one at fault, that all of us are guilty because “our duty is to unite to make the peace.”

Sicilia referred to the words of Maria Herrera and her message appealing to Mexican society to organize itself to make that peace. She is a visible leader in the movement who has come along with it, and, now, is helping other victims who every day join up with the caravan.

Today, the struggle in Guerrero has a new weapon, because, as a recognized social fighter in the region, Pablo Sandoval Cruz, 93, told the caravan gathering in Chilpancingo: “A bullet against another bullet cannot establish peace.” He welcomed the caravan to the state capital and called for the establishment of peoples’ congresses in every state “not only to expose the problems but to tell those who govern how to solve the problem of crime.”

Pablo Sandoval with Javier Sicilia on the zócalo in Chilpancingo, Guerrero. DR 2011 Marta Molina.
Sicilia endorsed Sandoval’s words saying that the government of the country has covered up violence with more violence and, in words close to those of Gandhi, said, “if we continue responding with an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth we will all end up blind and toothless.”

Sicilia, in Chilpancingo, insisted that “we must seek a nonviolent path to remake our history, to win back our peace and recover our justice and our dignity and meet again as brothers and sisters in this immense and beautiful house named Mexico. That is because we are stronger than any violence.”

It is evident that nonviolent troops are forming through this caravan, that it’s discourse is finding fertile ground and that the public, indignant over the many kinds of violence that plague the country, is beginning to organize. As Sicilia said last week in Cuernavaca, “we are going to see the pain of the nation’s South that are also ancestral pains, fruits of neoliberal economic policies and discrimination against the indigenous peoples.”

Gandhi once said that violence is the fear of the ideals of others. The ideals of this Caravan of Peace are now a struggle against violence and to end the war on drugs. And these troops that go listening and following the movement’s steps have, each day, less fear in expressing themselves. The violent ones are those who fear these ideals. In Sicilia’s words in the Plaza of the Three Guarantees in Iguala: “We are going to obligate delinquency to make peace and find the path to rejoin human life.”

The nonviolent troops remember in Guerrero that peace is possible and that it is necessary to organize and stand up so that, as Sicilia said, citing the Zapatistas, a world can be made that makes possible many worlds.

In Acapulco, on Saturday, September 10, twenty thousand people formed civilian troops, dressed in white, remembering that this city, so accustomed to provide hospitality, has become largely empty of tourism, but they are determined to recuperate it so that “every plaza, every neighborhood, every beach of Acapulco will belong to everyone.”

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The Narco News Bulletin: Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America