Mexican poet and peace activist Javier Sicilia called during an appearance over the weekend at the 25th Guadalajara International Book Fair, or FIL, for “a cease-fire” between the government and Mexico’s drug cartels on Dec. 24-25 so they can “reflect on what they are doing, what they are doing to the country.”
“I ask for this truce as a momentary pause, not just in honor of Christmas, but to think about the harm we’re doing to ourselves and what those guilty of murder and corruption are doing to themselves, and the damage done by authorities who do not fulfill their obligations,” Sicilia said.
The Mexican poet took part in a roundtable discussion on Sunday with three other Mexican writers who have written on the subject to analyze the phenomenon of violence in Mexico.
Sicilia asked the hundreds of people present for a minute of silence before the event began to commemorate “the 50,000 dead whose number grows day by day” and later called for “two days without deaths” over Christmas.
Sicilia’s 24-year-old son, Juan Francisco, and six other young men were murdered by the violent Pacifico Sur drug cartel in the central state of Morelos on March 27.
Juan Francisco’s killing led Sicilia to stop writing and dedicate himself full-time to working for peace so other parents will not have to feel his pain.
Sicilia organized the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, traveling across Mexico to spread his message of peace.
The poet made a harsh criticism of the government and thought it unbelievable that in his country no one knows “where 10,000 of its citizens are” who have been disappeared by the wave of violence in which the nation is plunged.
Alejandro Rosas, co-author of the book “El Mexico que Nos Duele” (The Mexico that Grieves Us) said that what is at stake in Mexico today is “a very incipient, very weak democracy,” and spoke ironically about the July 1, 2012 presidential elections.
“For me, the end of the world announced by the Mayas (for next year) will be the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) returning to power the elections,” Rosas said to the applause of those attending the event.
Journalist and academic Ricardo Raphael, for his part, said that in Mexico “the state is the pistol with which criminal groups shoot each other,” and lamented that young people are “the main victims” of crime.
Raphael, author of “El Mexico Indignado” (Indignant Mexico), praised Sicilia’s work for the way he wields “the power of non-violence.”
Writer Paco Ignacio Taibo II, who served as roundtable moderator, said that Mexico “is falling to pieces” and demanded that those responsible for the situation be identified.
He asked the public to try and unify “the national discontent into a movement that will remove from power those who now hold it.”
On several occasions during the event those present cheered the criticisms of President Felipe Calderon, promoter of the strategy of all-out war against drug cartels and organized crime, at slightly more than seven months from the presidential elections that will choose his successor.