No More Blood in Mexico
By Sister Aine
Just consider that since 2006, 37,000 people have died in the brutal violence and drug wars there, according to reports in Reuters and the Washington Post. Some were skinned alive; many were dismembered and decapitated. Increasingly, children are murdered, and young boys are recruited into drug trafficking. For $250 a week, a boy becomes an assassin.When I spent several weeks in Texas near the Mexican border, Mexican people told me: “There is nothing we can do to stop the drug war.”
Today, however, I am watering a new seed of hope. It was planted in Washington, D.C. — not on Capitol Hill nor outside the White House, but at the Latin American Solidarity Coalition Conference, which took place April 8-10. Its goal was to: “Build a stronger movement to end U.S. militarism and the militarization of relations with Latin America.” Attendees from north and south included community and faith-based organizers, union workers, political scientists, concerned citizens, journalists, torture survivors, religious and students.
Now to give an account of my hope.
First, through Laura Carlsen, director of the Americas Program, Center for International Policy, I learned about Mexico’s new “No Mas Sangre” (No More Blood) movement. The Mexican cartoonist Eduardo de Rio Ruis founded it. In February of this year, more than 10,000 people joined a youth-led march to Mexico City. They called for an end to the failed military war on the drug and violence problem. They demanded a redirection of resources to address the people’s economic, health, social, and educational problems. Although the movement is still in its infancy, Mexicans are reclaiming their collective voice and power. This is the source of my hope. History proves that no matter how great the evil, destruction and oppression, when people unite; people can overcome.
Now to my second reason for hope: The No Mas Sangre Movement, USA?
A consistent concern voiced at the conference was this: U.S. militarization of the Latin America and the Caribbean is growing exponentially. To the American public, militarization is justified as a democracy enabler, a promoter of America’s national security and a defender of the defenseless. However, for many people in Latin America, U.S. militarization spreads economic, social, human and political oppression. Backed by the U.S., corrupt regimes have come to power (most recently in Honduras), diminishing the people’s right to organize, to bargain, to protect their land. Moreover, the U.S. pushes an intra-national security and military dependency, ensuring its own security and military ascendency in Latin America and the Caribbean.
As I listened to the presenters decouple U.S. militarization, it occurred to me that the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas are active participants in the No Mas Sangre movement. Instead of making demands of President Calderon or members of the drug cartels, we spend our time making demands of President Obama and the U.S. government. Each time we join in a call to action to urge Congress to reduce our $700 billion military spending or close the School of the Americas, we work systemically to stop the bloodshed of the people of Mexico. In the coming months, when we call on members of Congress to significantly reduce military spending in the 2012 budget, (as urged by Marianne Comfort in her recent post), we will carry on the “No Mas Sangre” movement.
High on the discussion list at the conference was uncovering U.S economic interests in Latin America. Analyzing and exposing the destructive impact of U.S. economic rule on Mexico and other Latin American countries, including rising reports of human rights abuses, is critical to the No Mas Sangre movement.
Last week, the Institute Justice Team joined other religious and faith- based organizations in a letter to President Obama opposing the proposed U.S.- Columbia Free Trade Act (FTA). Despite the Administration’s move to create an action plan addressing Columbia’s notorious labor and human rights violations, a fair and just trade agreement, including agricultural protections for small farmers, is still lacking. Like the North American Free Trade Agreement’s (NAFTA) devastating impact on the people of Mexico, the U.S- Columbia FTA is predicted to have an equally detrimental impact on the livelihoods and human rights of its people.
Finally, conference presenters were unequivocal in their concern about U.S. responsibility in the drug wars and violence in Latin America, especially in Mexico. Among other measures, the U.S. must curb the sale of arms to the south. We must address the problem of drug money laundering. We must focus on reducing the demand for illicit drugs, and provide drug rehabilitation to those who are addicted.
Each time we urge members of Congress to pass laws that support stricter gun control; fair trade for all; the regulation of the financial industry; funding of drug rehabilitation programs; and the provision of educational and vocational opportunities for our youth, we join with the people of Latin America in the No Mas Sangre movement.
The people of Mexico are urging people everywhere to pray for peace for a minute each evening at 8. This is based on a daily prayer movement in England during World War II, which resulted in the end of bombing on that country.