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Mexico: Day 1 of Peaceful Protest Against Drug War Violence

This post is part of our special coverage Mexico's Drug War.

On Thursday May 5, 2011, a national protest (#marchanacional on Twitter) kicked off in Cuernavaca, Morelos, a city 80 kilometers (around 50 miles) away from Mexico City. The participants en route to the capital in a peaceful walk will be received on Sunday, May 8, with a massive peaceful demonstration against the violence generated by the War on Drugs.

On Wednesday night, hours before the march began, President Felipe Calderón appeared on national television asking for the support and understanding from Mexican society towards his strategy in combating drug trafficking.

Your understanding and your support, support from the entire society, is essential. Because some people, in good or bad faith, are trying to stop the government's action.

There is no option to withdraw from the fight. On the contrary, we must redouble our efforts, because if we stop fighting they will kidnap, rob and kill all over the country.

During the official acts of the Cinco de Mayo national holiday, the President declared [es]:

Ante este enemigo hay quienes, de buena o mala fe, quisieran ver a nuestras tropas retroceder, a las instituciones bajar la guardia y darle simple y llanamente el paso a gavillas de criminales. Yo les digo que eso no puede y no va a ocurrir, porque tenemos la razón, porque tenemos la ley, y porque tenemos la fuerza vamos a ganar.

In the face of this enemy there are some that – with good or bad will, would like to see our troops stepping back, institutions lowering their guard and simply give way to sheaves of criminals. I tell all of them that this cannot happen, because we are right, because we have the law, and because we have the strength to win.

Monero Hernández (@monerohernandez), a political cartoonist that organized the movement #nomassangre (#nomoreblood) published this cartoon criticizing the President for not listening to the protestor's demands.

"They are so freaking stubborn" Image used with @monerohernandez's permission

Hundreds of people are already on their way to Mexico City. Excited, fearless and marching in silence, the participants demand a credible and smart strategy from the government, one that won't result in more violence and deaths.

#marchanacional in the highway Cuernavaca-Mexico DF Image via @alconsumidor

@Mxhastalamadre is tweeting the whole development of #marchanacional, as well as other activists like Jesús Robles (@roblesmaloof) and Daniel Gershenson (@alconsumidor), who are posting pictures constantly. A lot of citizens are showing their support and solidarity on Twitter.

Javier Sicilia. Image via @alconsumidor

Samuel Espino (@Sarcle), a very active citizen that has been working really hard in the organization and promotion of this protest, was also featured today in Al Jazeera's “The Stream” to talk about #marchanacional.

Newspaper Milenio offers an interactive map [es] of the route and events related to #marchanacional. The group that left Cuernavaca on the morning of May 5 already covered the first 20 kilometers (around 12 miles). Here is a video of their arrival to Coajumulco, their first stop:

@patyaspe tweets:

La marcha retoma su camino. Son más de mil personas, entre víctimas, familiares, inconformes y reporteros… Ah, y policías #marchanacional

The march is back on track. Over one thousand people, including victims, families, protesters and reporters … Oh, and police #marchanacional

Also, a music video by Youth in Movement United for Peace from Chiapas is spreading around the web to support #marchanacional and demand: “No more Blood, No more Deaths Mr President!”

Jesús Robles Maloof also writes in his blog [es] about the first day of #marchanacional:

Nunca pensé que caminaría de Cuernavaca al DF, como nunca pensé que mi país se sumiera en una ola de violencia y que nuestros políticos solo acertarán a decir. “Si no estas conmigo, estás contra mi”. Sigue el debate de las propuestas de las ideas. ¿se debe cambiar la estrategia? ¿cuál es la opción? ¿marchar resuelve algo?

I never thought I'd walk from Cuernavaca to Mexico City, as I never thought that my country was going to be plunged into a wave of violence and that our politicians would managed to say. “If you're not with me, you're against me. ” The debate of proposals and ideas continue. Is there a need to change the strategy? What are the options? Does marching solve anything?

Today, May 6, the march will continue all the way to Topilejo on the southern outskirts of Mexico City and more people are expected to join to get to the main square, El Zócalo, in downtown Mexico City on May 8.

This post is part of our special coverage Mexico's Drug War.

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