reject Calderón's war
Alfredo Acedo --- ALAI
clock on the Torre Latinoamericana strikes 5:00 on April 6th as the
ragtag group that fills the esplanade of the Bellas Artes museum
yells "No more blood!" and "Down with Felipe
Calderon!" This is not a common place to begin a protest, but
this march was called by poets and artists, friends, followers, and
men and women who read the poems and articles of Javier Sicilia. They
all believe that poetry and art will triumph over death.
the murder of his son and six of his friends on March 28 in
Cuernavaca, the poet and social activist published "An
Open Letter to Politicians and Criminals,"
in which he condemns Calderon's war as being poorly planned, poorly
executed, poorly directed, and for putting the country in a state of
emergency. In his letter he also called upon his fellow Mexicans to
struggle for peace and justice.
letter was a powerful catalyst for the mobilization of a society that
is fed up with so much violence. "We are fed up because the
politicians cannot imagine anything other than violence, guns and
insults. With that they show a profound contempt for education,
culture, and opportunities for honest work. We are fed up because
this lack of imagination is what is allowing our youth, our children,
to not only be murdered, but afterward criminalized, falsely made
guilty to satisfy this lack of imagination. We are fed up because as
a result of the lack of an adequate government plan many of our youth
don't have the opportunity to pursue an education or to find
dignified work. As a result these youth become possible recruits for
organized crime and violence."
citizen networks in the state of Morelos, the poet called for a march
on April 6 at 5:00 in the afternoon from the monument of the dove of
peace to the Government's Palace in Cuernavaca. He also asked for
concurrent marches to be held across the country. "If we are not
capable of obligating you, the politicians, to govern with justice
and dignity and obligating you, the criminals, to return to your code
of honor and limit your barbarity, the spiral of violence that you've
both generated will bring us down a path of horror without end."
march was preceded by an internet
about the uselessness of marches. In this debate what predominated
was the voices of those who are also fed up but who believe that
everything is useless and who can only think about the downfall of
the country. We must march, inform ourselves, argue, organize, and
society must confront the political mafias, and the criminals rather
than be left without a voice.
is why "No more blood, not one more death" is the motto of
this march that goes --- at the same time as several others
throughout the country --- towards Mexico City's Zocalo. Wit, along
with indignation, stand out in each flier, banner, and sign:
Already! (Picasso's dove takes flight again)." "No more
damn war, it must end today!" "200,000 liters of blood
spilled by Calderón and his hitmen." "Calderón's war is
the youth's holocaust." "USA, Don't be a sucker for your
guns." "14,000 orphans in Ciudad Juárez, more than 300
children killed." "The murderers are in Los Pinos (the
Mexican Presidential Palace)." Investigators from the National
Institute of Anthropology and History sent a direct message: "While
you (the champions of employment and clean hands) talk about
organized crime, thousands of Mexicans know that you are all a part
of organized crime, together with those who own the media outlets and
their self-proclaimed journalists."
of the time change the sun remains strong as people continue to
arrive. There are groups of young people, contingents from the
Mexican Electricians Union of (SME), supporters of Lopez Obrador,
members of the Federal District's Human Right's Commission, and women
with handfuls of flowers demanding an end to femicide and other
crimes in Ciudad Juárez. While the aroma of white flowers floods the
air, a woman comments that her sister is afraid to go out to buy
tortillas. "Gardenias smell wonderful. Carnations not so much,
but they last longer even though their stem is brittle,"
explains the woman.
is estimated that 10,000 attended the march in the capital. In
Cuernavaca more than 40,000 came together with Javier Sicilia with
the same demands. There were marches in Culiacán, Hermosillo and in
cities in 21 of the country's states. Many went out to protest in
Monterrey in spite of the dangers in that city.
5:20 the column advances, blocking Eje Central and soon filling the
street 5 de Mayo. A dozen machetes represent the people of Atenco.
The youth yell for schools and jobs. They want hospitals, not the
newspaper stands the cover of the new issue of Proceso, which has
Javier Sicilia's letter to the government and criminals, reads "We
are fed up!" The magazine El Chamuco calls the recent agreement
about the coverage of violence among several media outlets, headed by
the television duopoly, the "pact to cover-up violence." An
enormous skeleton covers Calderón's face. Even the magazine Letras
Libres shows a gun and a bloodstain, while Milenio covers the DEA's
justification of the violence in Mexico.
the entrance of 5 de Mayo, when the column seems like it is about to
end, new contingents arrive from Eje Central. From the sidewalks
people watch seriously but without hostility or rejection. Some of
the looks betray a conviction: this march is necessary as a prelude
to actions that can change the extreme situation engulfing the
arriving at the Zócalo the column surrounds the areas that members
of the SME and miners have occupied. In front of the Palacio Nacional
the multitude chants: Shout, shout, don't stop shouting that the
government must die! But "Juarez must not die." In front of
the number 40,000 formed by three femur bones and four skulls the
students propose to "end the bullets with culture and
education." The figure is the approximate number of deaths over
the course of the war against the drug traffickers.
20 performers from UNAM lie on the floor. Four or five others with
military jackets and hoods over their faces shoot them, re-killing
them. One of them points his cardboard rifle at me. His hands are
bloodstained. Bang, he shoots me. I move my head backwards as if it
had been jolted by the impact. As regular media consumers, we are
desensitized to violence because we see violent scenes everyday. The
young speaker announces that "Now, each one of us is at risk of
dying in the crossfire or being among the ‘collateral casualties'
of this war, and marches will not be sufficient to end it."
is 6:15 and the Zócalo is filled to capacity. The meeting started by
highlighting the oddity of the march that expresses a rage long
contained. From the platform poems are read instead of speeches.
these are our dead, but this is not our war. "Here come the dead
--- so lonely, so mute, so ours, squeezed under the enormous sky of
Anáhuac, they walk, they drag themselves, with their dread in their
hands, their lurid tenderness.
are the dead who were found in a pit in Taxco, in remote sites in
Chihuahua, in sparse plots of land, dumped in la Marquesa, hanging
from bridges, headless, in ejidal lands, on the side of the highway,
in abandoned cars, in San Fernando, those who were butchered and
still have not been found, the legs, the arms, the heads, the femurs
of the dead whose bodies were dissolved in drums.
are called remains, cadavers, deceased, the dead for whom mothers and
wives never get tired of waiting, imagined between subways and
are called camisole, woven in the soul's coffin, a small,
three-month-old undershirt, the photo of the toothless smile…"
(These are fragments
of the poem read by its author, María Rivera.)
profound indignation some speakers reject the idea that drug
trafficking is the country's biggest problem. They say that the
president is impulsive and faint-hearted. They demand he step down.
The legalization of drugs would be similar to the expropriation of
oil in that it would be an act of dignity that would put Mexican
citizens before war and empire.
remember Javier Sicilia as someone who exemplifies what it meanes to
be a poet and how to view the world through poetry, putting human
values before selfishness and greed. They bemoan his poetic vow of
silence and join his call for struggle.
prolific and recognized narrator and historian says "my name is
Paco Ignacio Taibo, I'm a writer and I'm here for the same reasons as
all of you." He tells a story about a young man from
Azcapotzalco who he heard say that those who govern are the true
ninis because they neither govern nor represent the people. "Let's
start preparing because we will have to work hard to get rid of the
ninis who govern," he says, concluding his brief speech.
next?" I ask the writer.
we will sing the national anthem and will go and start preparing and
calling for the next march and the one after that and the one after
that. Only we can stop this. Things are getting worse, they take down
a group on Monday and they're back on the street on Tuesday. This
never should have been started before reforming the corrupt police
forces who have been infiltraded by the criminals. The entire first
phase of the war has been directed by Chapo (Gúzman) while Calderón
continues living in Disneyland. Now Mexico is in a living hell."
the rally I ask the actor Daniel Giménez Cacho the same thing. "I
don't know. I'm not a psychic," he responds, stalling, "but
I think what follows is to support Javier Sicilia's plan, to have
more protests, and accompany him in Cuernavaca." He tells Radio
Bemba that the impunity, the deafness, the lack of hope, racism,
classism, and the quest for money at all costs in Mexico causes him
young worker, Gabriela Barajas, says that she is scared that one day
she'll go out and not return home. She says that we must be conscious
of the reality in our county and unify.
protest has given life back not only to the complaints against the
violence, but also against the other problems that are ravaging
Mexican society. These include the lack of access to education and
quality healthcare and the greed of politicians and businessmen.
is the only way out of this maze, says Victoria Nuñez, a sociology
student. An education that makes people ask questions. "They
have taken away philosophy, logic, art --- everything that makes us
question ourselves. The curriculum attacks socialization and promotes
individualism. We must protest in order to recuperate what has been
lost rather than remain without discourse and dialogue," she
De Nutella tells me that the most important thing is that the
objective of the movement must be clear and that we cannot forget
that the politicians are our employees and they should be accountable
to us and live without privilege. For example, they should use ISSSTE
(Mexico's health care and social security system for state workers)
rather than run up costs using expensive private doctors and
Zocalo's flag is not at half-mast as it should be, as a sign of
mourning for so many deaths. At the end of the protest, however, the
flagpole is surrounded by hundreds of flames that wave like miniature
flags with the wind. There are tears, sobs, uncontrollable crying,
white flowers, memories and proposals that form a huge offering.
Lying there are the snow-white gardenias and carnations that
thousands of protesters carried in their hands and hair.
parents are poets… All children are poetry." "Calderón:
Understand, my children don't live in a bunker." Other messages
refer to the recent government-sponsored agreement among several news
outlets establishing self-censorship in the coverage of violence. As
if reality could be changed by a shift in editorial discretion. There
are many critics of the alienating role of the television duopoly:
"The Mexico Initiative is a cartel of misinformation."
a piece of cardboard a message reads "Felipe, would you continue
with your war if one of the murdered young people had the last name
Acedo is communications director and advisor to Mexico's National
Union of Regional Autonomous Campesino Organizations (Unión Nacional
de Organizaciones Regionales Campesinas Autónomas).