More than 400 people left Cuernavaca, Morelos, on Thursday morning to walk and bus to Mexico City while calling for peace and a change to the federal government’s security and law enforcement strategy.
Led by poet and anti-violence activist Javier Sicilia, the “Walk for Truth, Justice and Peace” departed the Dove of Peace monument in the Morelos capital at 9:30am.
Accompanied by family members of missing people and members of Mexican-American Mormon families who lost nine members to an attack in Sonora in November, Sicilia said that he was hopeful that President López Obrador would listen to their message.
“With our walk and our words, we’re calling on him to unite the nation and to build with all of us a solid state policy based on truth and justice,” he said.
Sicilia stressed that he wanted the president to understand that the participants in the march are not his enemies, “but rather enemies of violence.”
However, announcing the peace walk at the start of this month, the activist said that he and others believed that the government’s peace and justice policy is “wrong.”
He claimed today that the government and organized crime remain in cahoots although López Obrador claims that his administration has put an end to the complicity seen in the past.
“The victims, the blood, the horror, the misery, the streets taken by organized crime, the state taken and co-opted by organized crime is not a show, it’s the country’s reality,” Sicilia said.
Julian LeBarón, also an outspoken anti-violence activist, said that he hoped the walk to Mexico City would serve as an “embryo” – in other words grow into a larger movement for peace.
He and other members of the LeBarón and Miller families plan to walk one kilometer of the journey barefoot to pay homage to Mackenzie, a 9-year-old girl who survived the November 4 ambush that killed three women and six children and walked miles without shoes to look for help.
Jay Ray, who lost his daughter and two grandsons in the attack, said that he and other members of his family were taking part in the walk to encourage other people to join the movement for peace and to call for an end for impunity.
The participants were expected to reach a town in the Morelos municipality of Huitzilac on Friday before returning to Cuernavaca by bus to spend the night.
They will set out from Tres Marías on Friday morning to arrive in southern Mexico City in the afternoon. The peace activists will participate in an event at the Estela de Luz monument outside Chapultepec Park on Saturday, while on Sunday they will complete their walk with a march to the National Palace in the capital’s historic center.
Sicilia, who lost his son to violence, also organized a peace march in 2011 when former president Felipe Calderón was in office.
Soon after he took office in 2006, Calderón launched a militarized war on drug cartels that was continued by his successor, Enrique Peña Nieto. Mexico’s homicide rate skyrocketed as the armed forces engaged in violent clashes with criminal groups.
López Obrador has pledged to bring peace to Mexico by addressing the root causes of violence rather than through the use of force but is coming under increasing pressure to change his strategy amid high levels of ongoing violence.
Statistics published Monday showed that 2019 was Mexico’s most violent year on record, with more than 34,000 homicides.