Despite fear, Mexican victims of drug war on Caravan for Peace to visit El Paso-Juarez border to deliver clear message: End the war on drugs

Press Release August 19, 2012
Media Contact

Contact: Daniel Robelo, Drug Policy Alliance: 650-465-2584<br />
Richard Newton, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition: (915) 588-5054</p>

El Paso, Texas –On Tuesday, August 21st, members of the Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity will gather in front of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) division office in El Paso to demand accountability from the principal US government agency charged with prosecuting the drug war in both Mexico and the United States, and to seek a dialogue about the costs of this war—and how to bring it to an end.

Families bearing large and small pictures of loved ones lost in Mexico’s drug war will join Mexican exiles and US families and communities hurt by the drug war in actions and community events designed to call attention to the human and economic toll of this war on both sides of the border.

One such family is that of Olga Reyes. Olga’s family, the Reyes-Salazar family, are known human right activists from Juarez. Six members of her family have been killed and more than 20 of her surviving family members are currently in exile because of the harassment and death threats they have received both from organized crime and the Mexican military.

“Our Caravan includes people who have lost sisters, fathers and other loved ones in Ciudad Juarez—this most violent of symbols of the failed and senseless drug war” said Javier Sicilia, the poet turned activist and Caravan leader after his son, Juan Francisco, was killed last year. “Despite their fear, these families and the rest of the Caravaneros have decided to come here to El Paso, Juarez’s sister city, to show the DEA the human face of its failed and costly war. These brave families are here at the border to launch a movement that will end the war on drugs. Juarez is Spanish for ‘We have no choice’ but to end this madness,” Sicilia concluded.

What: Nonviolent Protest at DEA El Paso Division Office

Where: 660 Mesa Hills Drive, El Paso, Texas

When: 12 PM Central Time

The DEA has a long history of shadowy activities in Mexico and the rest of Latin America. While the controversial agency’s activities over the course of nearly 40 years have had no effect whatsoever on the use or supply of drugs, they have had a destructive effect on Mexico and other parts of the region. The DEA also has been implicated in the recent killings of four innocent civilians in Honduras. Meanwhile, its director, Michele Leonhart, has squandered limited federal resources targeting legal state medical marijuana providers, driving legal consumers back to the underground market that finances organized crime. Leonhart also famously equated the harms of heroin with those of marijuana – a substance that is actually less harmful than alcohol.

"As a former federal border agent, I can attest to the fact that DEA's criminalization approach to drug control not only doesn't work, but creates so many more problems," said Richard Newton, a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and a retired, El Paso-based drug interdiction pilot with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. "If we replaced the failed drug war with legalized regulation, it would deal a bigger financial blow to the cartels than any law enforcement crackdown ever could."

Since 2006, when Mexican President Felipe Calderon launched the military against drug traffickers with the ready support of the US, Ciudad Juarez has become one of the most dangerous places in the world. Although the levels of violence have dropped somewhat this year, the city still remains unacceptably dangerous. The Caravan, led by victims who have been persecuted and have lost family members, is focusing on the DEA for its role in the destruction. These victims, many of whom still fear for their lives, will question the DEA about the drug war’s cost in blood and life – not just in the US but on Mexican soil as well.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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