Drug Reform Movement Finds Home With Mexican Activists

By: Julian Aguilar, The Texas Tribune

AUSTIN — Maria Guadalupe Guzman Romo wasn’t concerned about legalizing pot in Texas when she marched on the state Capitol last weekend.
But there she stood anyway, just a few feet away from a giant banner that called for an end to the prohibition of marijuana and the taxing of hemp. Guzman Romo was there because of her son, a former Mexican army soldier who disappeared from Ciudad Jurez in 1993, decades before the current drug war that has claimed more than 60,000 lives.
“I tell them not to feel defeated. I have been fighting 19 years and I haven’t stopped,” she said of the advice she offers relatives of those who were recently kidnapped or murdered. “And I won’t stop until I find my son, because I handed him over alive and alive they shall return him to me.”
Guzman Romo was part of the Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity, a group started by Mexican poet Javier Sicilia and whose members have been affected by drug-related violence in Mexico. Sicilia’s son was murdered in the central Mexican city of Morelos in 2011, prompting the poet to become a harsh critic of U.S. and Mexican drug policies.

photo by: Julin Aguilar

Maria Guadalupe Guzman Romo marches with her daughter on the grounds of the state Capitol during the Caravan for Peace’s stop in Austin.
Guzman Romo doesn’t mention the United States’ war on drugs, but her cause has been joined by Americans who have found an opportunity in the publicity surrounding the violence in Mexico to shine attention to their own agendas in the U.S. Unlike Guzman Romo, whose mission is to bring attention to her son’s disappearance, others have joined the caravan out of opposition to an initiative that they say is causing such murders and disappearances in Mexico — and destroying families in America.
The caravan’s Texas stops last week included El PasoLaredo, McAllen, San Antonio, Austin and Houston, and it plans to end its weekslong trek in Washington, D.C., next month.
“I think what is important is the binational nature of this caravan,” said Roberto Lovato, the founder of Presente.org, an online Latino advocacy organization. “The drug war has been a fantastic failure here in the United States, if you look at more than 2 million people being incarcerated, families destroyed by that incarceration, a trillion of our tax dollars utterly wasted [on the drug war]. So we have law enforcement officers who lost their brothers and their sisters in the law enforcement world, and people who have lost family members in Mexico.”
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