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“Fed Up!” – Mexican Drug War Survivors Tour Texas

GRAPHIC: Caravan for Peace post card.
GRAPHIC: Caravan for Peace post card.
August 21, 2012

AUSTIN, Texas - A coast-to-coast caravan of Mexican drug-war survivors is traveling through Texas this week, trying to raise awareness of how U.S. policies affect their home country. More than 110 relatives of victims of drug-cartel-related violence are also pointing out ways in which the U.S. is affected in turn by Mexico's problems.

It's an opportunity for Texans to learn more about the human costs of the so-called war on drugs, according to Ana Yáñez-Correa, executive director of the non-profit Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, which is one of the groups sponsoring the caravan's Austin and Houston stops.

"These people have something to say, and we need to listen to them. They've been through too much. Their family members have been killed, and they're still making the trip to make the public aware that something needs to be done. That takes courage."

She says participants in "The Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity" feel they've done all they can to push for reforms in Mexico, so now they're asking Americans to join their struggle. Drug violence, she adds, weakens trade between the two countries, spurs illegal immigration, and is increasingly spilling into the streets of U.S. cities.

Correa says the decades-old war on drugs has proven ineffective, and ruthless Mexican drug lords have learned to exploit it.

"They've outgunned us, outsmarted us, outspent us, and yet the U.S. continues to spend billions of dollars on a war that's producing thousands of disappearances, thousands of deaths, and displacements."

She says strategies that rely primarily on locking up drug users are unrealistic. She thinks there have been some steps in the right direction - such as the Affordable Care Act's classification of drug abuse as a chronic disease, as well as a recent White House commitment to spend billions more on drug education and treatment - but Correa says it's time to reevaluate the entire problem, with a recognition that national policies spill over national borders.

"We've got to take responsibility. We're the number-one consumer of the drugs."

After a rally today in El Paso, the caravan moves on to several border-area cities before arriving in San Antonio Friday, at the state Capitol Saturday, and Houston on Sunday.

See the Caravan route at www.globalexchange.org.

Peter Malof, Public News Service - TX