This post is part of our special coverage Mexico's Drug War.
The National Protest for Peace, Justice and Dignity started its final stage early on Sunday, May 8, from the National University (UNAM) in Mexico City. International media reported that between 80,000 and 90,000 protesters joined the silent crowd on different points of the route across the capital.
Fountains were tinted red in the city:
And political cartoonists set up a small workshop in Bellas Artes, to help demonstrators draw their banners.
Citizen activists set up a booth collecting signatures to promote a trial in the International Criminal Court against President Felipe Calderón and all others who might be responsible for war crimes during the last 4 years of the War on Drugs. John Ackerman tweeted [es] that around 10,000 signatures were collected during the protest to support this trial.
In Bellas Artes, near the main square of the city, the atmosphere was friendly and playful, but people showed their discontent and opposition towards the violence generated by Calderón's strategy. Almost everyone had banners, flowers and flags.
#Marchanacional (national march) finally reached downtown Mexico City in silence.
The crowd yelled: “No More Blood! We've had it up to here! Not one more dead!” (¡No más sangre, estamos hasta la madre, ni un muerto más!) through Cinco de Mayo Avenue:
The main square, El Zócalo, was already packed before protesters entered. Some of the parents that have lost their children spoke while demonstrators entered the square. The father of Adriana Morlett was there again, denouncing the government for corruption. A mother that lost her son –a graffiti artist– demanded public spaces for street artists, and another father shared the story of the killing of his two sons: an architect and a graphic designer. A member of a community police group in Guerrero spoke about their experience in turning their community into one of the most secure areas in that State thanks to citizens taking the lead.
Patricia Duarte (@madreABC), who heads the movement Cinco de Junio [es], read the proposed National Accord. She also announced the citizen trial for the ABC Kindergarden case where 40 children died in a fire. Parents of the victims are still seeking formal justice.
The National Accord, to be signed in Ciudad Juárez on June 10, has 6 points that are described in detail in the complete document [es]:
1. Exigimos verdad y justicia.
2. Exigimos poner fin a la estrategia de guerra y asumir un enfoque de seguridad ciudadana.
3. Exigimos combatir la corrupción y la impunidad.
4. Exigimos combatir la raíz económica y las ganancias del crimen.
5. Exigimos la atención de emergencia a la juventud y acciones efectivas de recuperación del tejido social.
6. Exigimos democracia participativa, mejor democracia representativa y democratización en los medios de comunicación.
2. We demand an end to this war strategy and that an approach of citizen security is taken.
3. We demand a fight against corruption and impunity.
4. We demand a fight against the economic roots and proceeds from crime.
5. We demand emergency care for youth and effective actions to recover the social fabric.
6. We demand a participatory democracy, a better representative democracy and a democratization of the media.
Javier Sicilia took the microphone, thanked participants and said that Mexico must be a place full of people in the streets “at the right place and at the right time”. Then he demanded the resignation of the Public Safety Secretary, Genaro García Luna, as a signal that the President is listening to the demands of the people: “We want a message from the President announcing that resignation to know that he listens to us”.
He later read Heidegger and continued with this speech:
We have come so silently because our pain is so great and deep, and the horror from it is so immense, that there are no words to say it. With this silence, we say to the authorities responsible for the security of this country that we do not want one more death because of this growing confusion that only looks to suffocate us, like they suffocated the breath and the life of my son, Juan Francisco, and Luis Antonio, Julius Caesar, Gabo, María del Socorro, the Commander Jaime, and many thousands of men, women, children and elderly people killed with the disdain and vileness of worlds that are not and never will be ours.
To tell us and tell them that we believe the nation can still be reborn and emerge out of its ruins, to show the lords of death that we are standing.
He also questioned the fact that some governors have been publicly denounced as accomplices of organized crime and still are in the administration and their political parties protect them. He denounced the partidocracia and its complicity with mafias, which will lead voters to think about which cartel or de facto power to vote for in the next elections. Sicilia also reminded listeners that legislators attempted to pass the National Security Law under the table, and said that it is absurd that the national security is reduced to a military issue.
ThinkMexican created a Storify post with the development of #marchanacional in many cities of Mexico. Vivir Mexico made an impressive compilation with photos of that day; Demotix also published a curated photo essay about May 8.
Leo Gzz (@Sicapeas) uploaded one of the best visual chronicles of May 8, which includes testimonies of parents and family members of young victims of the War on Drugs.
Many cities in Mexico and in the world joined Marcha Nacional in solidarity. A gallery of the demonstration in Tamaulipas – a State where clandestine graves with a recent total of 188 bodies have been found – by ContigenteMX is available on their site.
In Germany, demonstrators in Frankfurt and Berlin demanded immediate demilitarization of Mexico.
In Paris, demonstrators participated in “Action Empty Envelope” in Champs Elysse and marched to the postal office to send 100 envelopes labeled with incidents of violence to Calderón's office in Mexico City. Emmanuel Delaloy published a photo essay of these events.
Eduardo Molina (@molintosh) tweeted a picture of London demonstrators protesting outside the Mexican Embassy. New York and Barcelona joined too:
Hours after the protest, the federal government issued a press release [es] where it expressed respect for the protest and reiterated that violence is not generated by the police and the army.
However, on Monday May 9, national security spokesman, Alejandro Poiré, defended Public Safety Secretary Genaro García Luna in opposition to the demands of Javier Sicilia. President Felipe Calderón offered to dialog with the main organizers of #marchanacional:
We can agree or disagree [..] Of course that doesn't exclude the possibility and the responsibility to dialog, to listen to each other and understand each other.
This post is part of our special coverage Mexico's Drug War.