Walking for Peace and Dignity in Mexico

September 25, 2012

By Lauren Snell, CCAO Intern

On September 14th, I had the honor of participating in a full day event with the Caravan for Peace, created by the organization Movement for Peace and Justice with Dignity (MPJD). This organization is headed by Poet and Peace Leader Javier Sicilia, who among others, strive to end the drugs wars that have created violence all over Mexico.  Due to the conflict, over 60,000 people have been killed, 10,000 people have disappeared, and more than 160,000 people have been displaced.

senate hearing

Senate hearing with family members who lost children due to violence in Mexico

To hear more about this issue, I went to a briefing in the Senate to hear members of the caravan reflect on their experiences. Several of the speakers discussed the lack of infrastructure of their country which has lead to where they and their families are today.  The majority found that drug policy cannot be taboo to decision-makers because by not recognizing the problem and finding solutions, people will continue to be harmed. It was hard to hold back tears when the speakers held up pictures of their loved ones who have either been killed or who have disappeared, due to the violence.

After the briefing came the most impactful part of my day when I had the opportunity to share dinner with the caravanistas, prayers, and walk with the caravanistas for peace. There was one gentleman who I sat with at dinner who lost four of his brothers all at different times; He told me they all had disappeared. A mixture of anger and sadness passed through me as I looked at him and said that I would walk for his brothers that night.

Mothers of the Disappeared

Mothers of Mexico's disappeared

In the church, where we all held our prayers that night, the reverend reminded us that “We are one human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, wherever they may be.” In that concept, we are alive to serve, to help, to support, and to love one another. Even if I may not have known this group before that day, I felt their pain and their need for peace. I shared tissues with a woman of the caravan who lost a loved one. We then tied white ribbons, representing peace, around each other’s wrists, forming a bond to fight for justice and dignity for all. Then, the gentleman who I had dinner with asked me to accompany him on the walk for peace which meant a lot to me.

evening candlelight vigil for peace

Vigil for peace in Mexico

I am grateful that I had the chance to meet these courageous people who possess so much strength despite hardships. Through walking with them , holding posters against the violence and pictures of lost family members,  I recognize more and more that conflict has no border but nor does the power of positive change.