The Caravan for Peace arrived in Washington, the last stop on a tour around the United States during which relatives of the victims of violence on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border have marked "an end and a beginning" in their denunciation of the war on drugs.
After covering more than 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles) and visiting 26 cities, the 110 members of the caravan headed by Mexican poet Javier Sicilia arrived in the U.S. capital.
"This is an end and a beginning," said Sicilia at a ceremony organized by the AFL-CIO to welcome the caravan to Washington.
"We came from far away to place right in the middle of this country the horror of this useless and lost war. We've put the human being in the center of life," said Sicilia, who in March 2011 lost his son Juan Francisco to killers involved with organized crime.
Conflict among rival cartels and between the traffickers and the security forces has claimed some 60,000 lives in Mexico since December 2006, when newly inaugurated President Felipe Calderon - whose term ends Nov. 30 - militarized the struggle against the drug trade.
In the face of the "absurd" policy of the war against drugs, the Caravan for Peace is proposing legalizing drugs, gun control and pursuing those who engage in money laundering.
"Drugs are not a national security matter, but rather one of public health," Sicilia told Efe, noting that the violence generated by illegal drug trafficking "has killed more innocent people than drugs would have killed over decades and centuries."
One of the activists who is accompanying Sicilia is Teresa Vera Alvarado, whose sister Minerva disappeared in 2006 in the southern state of Oaxaca and who, after years of fruitless searching, joined the caravan "to help other people who are suffering from a disappearance."
"We came to sensitize the authorities of both countries to do their work, because oftentimes they make fun of us, they say they are investigating and they don't (do it)," Vera told Efe.
The members of the caravan are to march from the White House to Freedom Plaza in Washington and later on Tuesday they will meet with 27 congressional officials and with Mexican Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan.
In its long journey around the United States, the Caravan's message has been mixed with another one concerning immigration, given that the war on drugs is resulting in "migrants beginning to become criminalized," Sicilia said.
The war on drugs "is opening the way to authoritarian states," the poet-turned-crusader said in an interview with Efe.
After his trek from Tijuana to Washington, Sicilia believes he had begun an "unprecedented process," shared by the citizens of Mexico and the United States, that shows that "declaring war against drugs is something absurd."
"Every day we're on the verge of losing our democracy. Not only are we losing our children, which is the most tragic thing, but we're clearing the way for authoritarian states with this absurd logic," he said. EFE