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Can the Caravan for Peace force us to rethink the War on Drugs?

Photo: Michael Barajas, License: N/A

Michael Barajas

Javier Sicilia, front man of Caravan for Peace.


While Sicilia says the U.S. and Mexico need to steer toward drug prevention and treatment, he's been careful not to explicitly advocate for legalization, saying instead both countries must treat drugs like a "public health problem" and resist tough-on-crime crackdowns and minimum-sentencing in the U.S., and a "mano dura" approach in Mexico that has escalated prohibition and repression.

Margarita McAuliffe, with the group Texas Moms United, knows well how the war on drugs has impacted local families. Her 28-year-old son has been twice jailed on possession charges. Incarceration hasn't helped him get the treatment he needs, she said. "This war has literally torn families apart here," McAuliffe said. "Everybody knows somebody who has been incarcerated for some type of drug charge. … It's a victimless crime, and these people, a lot of them, have mental health issues, they self-medicate." McAuliffe and others pointed to the case last week of 30-year-old Thomas Reed Taylor, who died in the Bexar County jail hours after he turned himself in on drug-related misdemeanor warrants. Authorities have ordered an autopsy and have yet to issue a cause of death.

After traveling the South, the caravan will end its journey in Washington, D.C., next month. Sicilia hinted at the message he plans to bring to policymakers, referencing the end of Prohibition America in 1933. "Look back into that mirror of the past so we can find a path forward together," he said, before ending with a prayer of sorts: "Lord make us your instruments of peace," he said. "If we don't do it all together, hell will end up devouring us."

To follow the caravan's progress, go to caravanforpeace.org

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