Thousands of Mexicans thronged the streets of their embattled nation this weekend demanding an end to drug war bloodshed with a national march entitled "We've had it UP TO HERE." [VIDEO, above] Meanwhile, on the U.S. side of the border, dozens of sympathizers gathered at the Mesilla Community Center for a rally in union with the Mexico citizen mobilization. Similar events occurred throughout the world, drawing attention to drug war violence which has spiraled beyond control.
Prominent journalists, law enforcement officials, and activist presenters painted a panorama of Mexican desolation as they testified to the devastating impact of drug war violence. The event, organized by Comite Amigos de Emilio (Friends of Emilio), was held here on the U.S. side of the border in conjunction with the Mexican national march to demand an end to the bloodshed.
In the nearby city of Juarez alone, the death toll from targeted assassinations and gangland-style executions last year topped 3,100. Juarez has averaged almost nine killings per day, making it the most dangerous city in the world, yet situated less than an hour's drive from this small, picturesque town at the outskirts of Las Cruces, NM. Those thousands of victims of violence were remembered simultaneously yesterday afternoon at a corresponding march and rally at a downtown plaza in Juarez.
Emilio Gutierrez-Soto, a former correspondent for the Ascension bureau of El Diario, the city's major daily newspaper, told the Mesilla gathering that just to be a journalist is it is dangerous in Mexico. In 2008, Gutiérrez fled his town of Ascención, Chihuahua, after writing a series of articles that criticized the Mexican army. He subsequently received death threats from the military and is seeking asylum in the United States.
"In the last five years, one journalist per month has been killed," Gutierrez told the group, according to the Las Cruces (NM) Sun-News, citing just one of many consequences the war has triggered.
The event was part of on ongoing effort of the group to attempt to bring more attention to Gutiérrez's case, to put pressure on U.S. immigration authorities and on Mexican officials who appear to be stalling to respond to his human-rights complaints, and to raise money to pay legal fees for Gutiérrez and other asylum seekers.
Renowned Mexican poet and journalist Javier Sicilia, whose son Juan Francisco, 24, was found slain and wrapped in masking tape in late March in Cuernavaca, issued the call that sparked the weekend marches. A message near his son's body was signed "CDG," presumably initials of the Gulf drug cartel. The slaying ignited the psyche of the nation, summoning the most organized public effort yet to demand an end to drug-related violence.
After four years the drug war has claimed at least 40,000 lives, vanished untold numbers of "disappeared," and filled streets throughout the nation with soldiers and federal police. Many Mexicans are sufficiently "fed up" with President Felipe Calderón's drug policy to risk their lives in a public protest. The marches this weekend, held in at least 25 of the country's 31 states, pitched that protest to "stop the war, for a just and peaceful Mexico." By one estimate, 200,000 Mexicans marched throughout the nation this weekend.
Besides rallies in solidarity--like the one in Mesilla--held in the United States, solidarity protests also took place in at least twelve cities in Europe, Canada and Brazil, reported the Upside Down World.