Mexican poet and activist Javier Sicilia spoke in Chicago recently about the drug war and the upcoming presidential elections in Mexico.
The murder of his son last year, a victim of the drug war, has led Sicilia on an international campaign for peace. He has led a peace caravan and marches around Mexico, and he will bring the caravan to the United States later in the summer.
He reminded those who heard him speak at the University of Illinois at Chicago on April 17 and at other venues in Chicago that the United States also is responsible for the drug war in Mexico.
"This war begins here, in your consumption of drugs, in your legalization of weapons," Sicilia said.
He said the drug war has devastated his country.
"There are zones of the country, especially in the north, where there is no state. The state is the criminals," Sicilia said.
Sicilia said he does not have any faith that the election of a new president in Mexico will change anything.
"All the governments are the same," he said.
Whatever party wins, will win by a fraction, Sicilia predicted.
The PRI, the Institutional Revolutionary Party, ruled Mexico for more than 71 years. The PAN, or National Action Party, won the presidency with the election of President Vicente Fox in 2000 and Felipe Calderon in 2006.
Some are predicting the drug war that has resulted in more than 60,000 deaths, including innocent civilians, will help the PRI make a comeback.
Sicilia said it won't be a citizen vote but a vote that is "bought or prostituted."
"Whoever wins is going to keep administering the disgrace and pain," Sicilia said. "…Unless we the people, do something."
Sicilia may be right that politicians don't change society. Civil society has to speak out even more to create that change.
I wonder if Mexico would ever have its own own Arab spring.
The poet said he stopped writing poetry after his son was murdered.
"When one loses a son, there are no words," Sicilia said.
But Sicilia is no longer silent. He is an activist for peace, an alternative voice, hoping to call attention to the injustice in his country.
His message is one that people on both sides of the border should hear.