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Mexicans March to Protest Drug Violence

  • Cindy Lavanderos

Mexican poet Javier Sicilia (file photo)

Mexican poet Javier Sicilia (file photo)

Thousands of demonstrators marched in Mexico City and other places across the country and abroad Wednesday to protest violence that has claimed the lives of more than 35,000 people since President Calderón's crackdown on organized crime began four years ago.

Chanting "no more blood," protesters carrying signs, flowers, and candles gathered in the capital's main plaza in support of Mexican poet Javier Sicilia and the families of thousands of victims of the country's brutal drug war.

Sicilia's son and six others were tortured and murdered last week in Cuernavaca, a popular weekend vacation spot near Mexico City

It was the first national protest against Calderón's war against organized crime, a fight that more and more people believe the president is losing. In a recent poll in El Universal, 63 percent said they thought Calderón's war strategy had failed.

At Wednesday's march, people of different ages and walks of life expressed their anger and frustration at the government's anti-drug efforts.

Visual artist Miguel Angel Corona said he was fed up with the administration's inability to resolve the increasing violence and impunity that had become "a national tragedy."

He added that the number of deaths in the drug war was greater than in those countries in Northern Africa where people were fighting to remove long-standing dictatorships.

Theatrical student Marina Pineda called for "more theater, and fewer bullets." She also expressed her indignation at the violence.

She pointed out that although this was not a huge demonstration, similar protests were also taking place in 33 cities across the country and 14 others outside Mexico.

In Cuernavaca, in the state of Morelos, where the bodies of Javier Sicilia's 24-year-old son and six others were found in a car along a highway on March 28, there have been daily marches to protest the assassination and the increased violence in the state.

Sicilia, who met with President Calderón for two hours prior to the march, later told protesters in Cuernavaca that he would stage a sit-in protest in the city's main plaza for a week.

He said if those responsible for the murders are not found by April 13, he would call a march to Mexico City to demand the resignation of Morelos State Governor Marco Adame.

Since the December 2009 shooting death of drug kingpin Arturo Beltrán Leyva in Cuernavaca and the arrest of Edgar Valdez Villarreal in August 2010, cartels have been engaged in a bloody battle for control of the trafficking route in Morelos state. In the first three months of this year there have been 80 killings in Morelos, five times more than the same period last year. Few, if any, arrests have been made.