Mexico City – A group of activists led by poet Javier Sicilia demanded immediate passage of a political reform bill that has been held up in the Mexican Congress' lower house while the legislature is in recess.
Sicilia and more than 20 other activists showed up unexpectedly Wednesday at the Mexican Senate, presenting their demands to a small group of senators and lower-house deputies who were inside the building.
"We haven't come to ask you. We've come to demand this of you, so if you have to have an extraordinary session, if you have to go without sleep, if you have to work extra hours, that's your problem," Sicilia told the group of lawmakers who received them.
Sicilia, who heads the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, met in May with Mexican President Felipe Calderon to analyze the country's severe organized crime problem.
The poet has received the backing of a broad swath of Mexican society since devoting himself to political activism after his son, Juan Francisco, and six other young men were murdered by suspected drug-gang members on March 27.
Sicilia and the other activists, who will meet with Mexican lawmakers next Thursday, wore clocks around their necks to symbolize their demand that lawmakers get back to work.
On April 27, two days before the end of Congress' last ordinary session, the Mexican Senate approved the political reform measure - which would allow citizens to run for president or any other public office as independent candidates and also enable local and federal lawmakers to seek re-election.
The bill was sent to the lower house but has stalled there because of the long recess; debate is not scheduled to begin until the next legislative session gets underway in September.
Lawmakers from the ruling National Action Party, the main opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party and the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution blamed one another for the delay in approving the political reform bill in the lower house.
Sicilia told Efe that Congress must hold an extraordinary session to pass the measure, adding that it would be a "minimal step" to give citizens a "much greater role" in the country's political life.
"We need citizen participation mechanisms because the country is getting out of hand and the lawmakers and political parties don't understand that if they don't get on the side of the people and work on their behalf they'll only be taking the country to hell," the poet said.
He added that "political blindness" has sparked a citizen awakening that could change the country's course and bring about "true democracy."
Sicilia has led peace marches in different parts of the country to protest the drug-related violence that has claimed more than 40,000 lives in Mexico since Calderon took office in December 2006.
He has called for changes in the drug-war strategy of the current administration, which has deployed tens of thousands of army soldiers and Federal Police to crack down on the heavily armed, well-funded mobs.
Sicilia also has been critical of the Mexican justice system and the rampant impunity for serious crimes.
Although two Pacifico Sur drug cartel leaders in Morelos and 18 associates have been charged with the murders of his son and the six other young men in the central state of Morelos, he said it is shameful that thorough investigations only are seen in high-profile cases.
"This should be the way all the prosecutors do their jobs on a daily basis ... this case is an exception," the poet said in a press conference Sunday to discuss the prosecutions.
"It's not possible that just 2 percent of the cases taken up (by prosecutors in Mexico) end up solved," Sicilia said.
The poet, considered one of Mexico's best writers, plans a peace caravan from southern Mexico to the central region of the country in September.