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2012-05-11

Stop the Drug War: Mexican Poet Javier Sicilia Condemns U.S. Role in Widening Drug Violence

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Javier Sicilia, poet, essayist, novelist and journalist in Mexico. He is leading a caravan of Mexican anti-violence protesters. Sicilia began speaking out after his 24-year-old son was brutally murdered by drug traffickers in early 2011. He was honored last night in New York by the North American Congress on Latin America.

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We end the week with part two of our interview with renowned Mexican poet Javier Sicilia. Last year, Sicilia’s 24-year-old son, Juan Francisco, was murdered by drug traffickers in Cuernavaca, Mexico. In his son’s memory, Sicilia created the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity to urge an end to the drug war. Sicilia is now in the United States to launch a month-long peace caravan this August after leading a similar caravan across Mexico last year. "We are outraged, because this war has done nothing for us. It has not solved the problem," Sicilia says. "We need to create awareness, consciousness, that the people, the American people, know that behind every drug consumer and behind every use of guns, we pay with dead people." Click here to watch part 1 of this interview [includes rush transcript]

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We end our show today with part two of our interview with Mexico’s renowned poet Javier Sicilia. Last year, his 24 year-old son, Juan Francisco, was murdered by drug traffickers in Cuernavaca, Mexico. In his son’s memory, Sicilia created the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity to urge an end to the drug war. Sicilia is here in the United States to launch a month-long peace caravan this August.

AMY GOODMAN: Javier Sicilia led a similar caravan across Mexico last June, which attracted so much attention Mexican President Felipe Calderón agreed to meet with him and other relatives of drug violence victims. Sicilia’s efforts to legalize the drug trade is at odds with Calderón’s efforts. I asked Sicilia what Calderón told him when they meet. This is Javier Sicilia.

JAVIER SICILIA: [translated] He got sensible to the problem of the victims, and he assumed the responsibility that is appropriate to the state to assume. Then a justice commission was created to address the problems of the victims, and a special act for—a national act for victims of the violence and the power abuse. But he doesn’t want to change the war strategy. He keeps the position that he must make the war on the cartels and the drugs, instead of using policies that are more deep and specific, and to make the war with violence through violence, in spite of the big failure.

AMY GOODMAN: The Summit of the Americas and before that, we are seeing Latin American presidents, leaders, past and present, conservative, progressive, sharing the same view, a consensus around the decriminalization of drugs right now. Most people don’t even hear about this in the United States. What are your views? Are you calling for the decriminalization, for the legalization of drugs?

JAVIER SICILIA: [translated] Drugs have always existed in the world. They have even their sacred place, in the pre-Columbian rites, in the rites in Greece in the Eleusis. The problem is that the market has made it illegal. And as everything that the market touches, it got [rotten]. It’s now a problem, just as the alcohol use, like the tobacco use, like the prescription drugs in pharmacies. You have to put them into the market law so that you can control that, like any other product. There is no other way. Or what else? What’s the option? To protect kids so that they don’t use drugs, do you have to kill them, just like they killed my son? You had a president who used marijuana—Clinton did. You had an alcoholic president, Bush. If you had them in jail, you wouldn’t have had a president. So, what is the option? That’s the policy of criminalizing the use of drugs: destroying people who had possibilities and killing innocent people.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you—President Calderón’s term is about to come to an end. A new election is coming up in Mexico this summer. And your sense of the candidates for the various parties, how they are addressing or not addressing this issue of what to do about the drug war?

JAVIER SICILIA: [translated] Unfortunately, this is not in [any] of the agendas of the candidates. The parties and the candidates have not understood that there is a national emergency, that we would need a unity government, a national government, to save the country. And they make elections as if the country were in peace. The one who wins the president will simply administer the misfortune. We need to face the problem seriously, all of us. And we need to change the path that it has been taking up to now.

AMY GOODMAN: Late last month, a funeral was held for Regina Martínez, the Mexican journalist murdered inside her home in Veracruz. She often wrote about drug trafficking for the news magazine Proceso, one of Mexico’s oldest and most respected investigative news magazines. I want to go to a clip of Rafael Rodríguez Castañeda. He is the editor of Proceso.

RAFAEL RODRÍGUEZ CASTAÑEDA: [translated] Proceso is a magazine that, contrary to what Regina Martínez’s assailants might have thought, is not stopped by things that shock us. It doesn’t make us doubt that we are doing what we should do, which is to reflect on what is happening in this country with authenticity, honesty, honor and clarity, as far as our professional reach allows.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Rafael Rodríguez Castañeda, the editor of Proceso. These deaths of journalists, of your son, of tens of thousands of Mexicans.

JAVIER SICILIA: [translated] We are outraged, because this war has done nothing for us. It has not solved the problem. And we are losing most of the best people. My son and many Mexicans have died. And we need to create awareness, consciousness, that the people, the American people, know that behind every drug consumer and behind every use of guns, we pay with dead people, people who die, like this journalist, like my son. And it’s our blood at stake, and it’s the country and democracy.

AMY GOODMAN: You have said you have stopped writing poetry. Why?

JAVIER SICILIA: [translated] It’s complicated. Well, I’ll give you some hints. Theodor Adorno attracted my attention when he said that, after Auschwitz, poetry could not be written. I didn’t understand, when my son was killed, because Auschwitz is not matter of quantity, it’s a matter of intensity. I lived our Auschwitz. I am living in Auschwitz with all these people dying in Mexico. And a poet lives out of language, of the word that the world is giving to him. And that word is degraded by the murderers and the political corruption and poor. I don’t have enough words to say what I would have to say.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I’d like to ask you—Mexico is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world. It has a huge, long culture and proud history. Do you fear that the country is on the verge of being a failed state?

JAVIER SICILIA: [translated] I even would say that there is no state. The state is completely fractured. And if the parties, political parties, are not aware of this, we are going to a narco state, a drug state, where violence will have its roots both legally and illegally, and we are going to be forever lost in that.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, the route you will take in the United States? You are starting in California?

JAVIER SICILIA: [translated] We start in Tijuana, in San Diego, and we go over across the border to Brownsville.

AMY GOODMAN: Texas.

JAVIER SICILIA: [translated] Texas. We go up to Chicago, New York and Washington.

AMY GOODMAN: And your demands?

JAVIER SICILIA: [translated] Change the drug use policies: legalize drugs and take them as a health issue, public health issue. Gun control: a serious and strong gun control that are being exported to Mexico. Money laundering: to make it visible, and make it visible that this is also hurting the immigrant communities. There are many immigrant families that are being extorted. And in my country, Central American immigrants are disappearing. We don’t know where they are.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think Obama has changed anything from President Bush?

JAVIER SICILIA: [translated] Not in this matter. He hasn’t been interested. I was listening to Kushner a while ago. He was talking about being more radical, about the urgent measures about the environment, for instance, human rights. This war has to do with human rights and requires a human policy. That, unfortunately, Obama is not addressing.

AMY GOODMAN: The Mexican poet Javier Sicilia. He was translated by Malú Huacuja del Toro. Sicilia founded the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity after his 24-year-old son, Juan Francisco, was murdered last year by drug traffickers. Sicilia is here in the United States to launch a month-long peace caravan this August that will start in California, go through Arizona, Texas, and end up in Washington, D.C.

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