End on the road

A trip aiming to stop the country’s war on drugs

Drug-law reformers, it’s time to road trip.

This past Sunday, more than 100 organizations joined the Mexican Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity on a monthlong caravan across the United States.

Renowned Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, whose son Juan Francisco was killed in prohibition-related violence last year, will lead other victims and family members from Mexico to unite with victims and supporters across the United States.

“Our purpose is to honor our victims, to make their names and faces visible,” Sicilia said in a press statement. “We will travel across the United States to raise awareness of the unbearable pain and loss caused by the drug war.”

Several police officers, judges, prosecutors and other drug-war veterans will escort the caravan with a mock police vehicle decorated with anti-prohibition slogans.

“I spent decades as a police officer trying to make these drug laws work, but in the end, it didn’t do one bit of good,” Neill Franklin, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and a retired narcotics cop from Baltimore, said in a press statement.

Franklin says that keeping drugs illegal doesn’t reduce abuse, but instead causes death and destruction “by creating a lucrative black market where violence is the primary tool used to protect profits.”

“The blood of the 60,000 dead Mexicans and countless Americans who have lost their lives in illegal-drug-market violence here in the U.S. is on the hands of politicians who refuse to fix our clearly broken drug policies,” he argued.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is also part of this activist project, noting that the drug war has become the new Jim Crow in America, and has led to the purported “land of the free” having the highest incarceration rates of any country in history. The United States ranks first in the world in incarcerating its own citizens, with less than 5 percent of the world’s population but nearly 25 percent of the world’s prison population. Roughly 500,000 people are behind bars for a drug-law violation today. Blacks and Latinos are vastly overrepresented among those arrested and incarcerated for drug offenses, even though drug-use rates are similar across racial and ethnic lines.

The caravan started in Baja California border town Tijuana on Saturday, August 11, crossed the U.S.-Mexico border to San Diego, and is now traveling through 20-plus cities and communities in 10 states before arriving in Washington, D.C., on Monday, September 10. The caravan will officially conclude on Wednesday, September 12, by calling for an International Day of Action for Peace in Mexico.

Rather than curbing drug use or supply, prohibition has enriched violent traffickers, armed with illegal weapons and sustained by laundered money, both of which flow into Mexico from the United States unabated. The militarization of drug policy has only escalated the violence, corruption and impunity, leading to more deaths and disappearances that have torn the fabric of Mexican society.