by Gerry Emmett
On April 6, from Mexico City’s main square, the Zócalo, to dozens of other cities throughout the country, thousands marched against the violence of Mexico’s drug wars. In Mexico City alone, 15,000 marched chanting, “Not one more!” and “No more blood!”
The demonstrations were sparked by an open letter by journalist and poet Javier Sicilia. He targeted the Mexican government and the drug cartels, writing of “the rotting of the heart that has been wrought by the poorly labeled political class and the criminal class, which has broken its own codes of honor.” Sicilia’s young son, Juan Francisco, was recently murdered along with a number of his friends in Cuernavaca.
To the Mexican government: “We have had it up to here because you only have imagination for violence, for weapons, for insults and, with that, a profound scorn for education, culture, and opportunities for honorable work, which is what good nations do. We have had it up to here because your short imagination is permitting that our kids, our children, are not only assassinated, but, later, criminalized, made falsely guilty to satisfy that imagination.”
To the cartels: “You have become cowards like the miserable Nazi sonderkommandos who kill children, boys, girls, women, men and elders without any human sense. We have had it up to here because your violence has become infrahuman–not animal, as animals do not do what you do–but subhuman, demonic, imbecilic.”
As if in proof of that verdict, even as the marches were taking place, mass graves were discovered holding 59 bodies in Tamaulipas.
Many in Mexico agree with the protester who declared, “We need to end this war, because it is a senseless war that the government started.” But Mexican and U.S. government spokesmen have adopted the line that increasing violence is really a sign of success in their “war on drugs,” and the innocent victims are acceptable “collateral damage.”
Javier Sicilia’s voice in this open letter is more than a voice of rage. Like Orozco’s great mural of an angry Jesus chopping down the cross, it is an echo of the profound humanism of the Mexican revolutionary tradition, the voice of el pueblo at its work of humanizing its world. Ultimately, the tradition of Zapata will take precedence over that of Santa Muerte.