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Mexico: Following Javier Sicilia's Footsteps

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

Activist Javier Sicilia, leader of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity [es] has continued operating through talks with members of the Executive and Legislative powers, by marching and protesting peacefully.

His activities have sparked, as expected, the most diverse citizen reactions on the internet.

Manuel Robles, writing for the blog Experto de la Nada (Expert in Nothingness), analyses the reactions of those who complained about Sicilia's meeting [es] with President Felipe Calderón on June 23, 2011, displaying their distaste and disappointment.

Me imagino que quienes critican el rumbo que ha tomado el Movimiento esperaban un asalto al Castillo de Chapultepec, con un Sicilia empuñando un libro de versos y una plumilla entre los dientes al grito de “¡Que no quede uno vivo!” lidereando con su embestida el apaciguamiento de la ira popular degollando funcionarios federales. De otra manera no me explico la decepción que les causó un acto cívico.

I imagine that those who criticise the stance that the movement has taken were awaiting the storming of Chapultepec Castle, with Sicilia leading, wielding a poetry book and a quill between his teeth shouting, “Take no prisoners!” charging forward to appease the public unrest by beheading public figures. There is no other way I can explain the disappointment that fuelled by a civic act.
Talks between the President and the Movement. Image by Flickr user Gobierno Federal (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Talks between the President and the Movement. Image by Flickr user Gobierno Federal (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Additionally, Robles expresses his opinion about said meeting:

No soy historiador, más bien soy un Experto de Nada, pero me parece que el intercambio que tuvo verificativo entre representantes de la sociedad civil sin partido político y sin bandera electoral, con el titular del Poder Ejecutivo y miembros de su gabinete en un acto público no tiene precedentes en el país, sobre todo en su carácter de denuncia de viva voz, en donde cupieron las réplicas a los funcionarios públicos. Tal vez me equivoque, ya habrá quien me enmiende la plana, pero no me cabe la menor duda de que ha sido un evento histórico.

I am not a historian, just an Expert at Nothingness, but it seems to me that the exchange that took place between representatives of civil society without any political party or electoral flag, with the holder of Executive Power and members of his cabinet in a public proceeding with no previous ones in the country, above all in it's condemning character for all to hear, where replicas of public figures were put into place. Perhaps I am wrong, there are already those who would straighten me out, but I don't have the slightest doubt that that was a historical event.

Weeks after meeting with the President, Sicilia and other members of the movement held talks with members of the Legislative Powers. One of the issues discussed was “constitutional reform” which also discusses the “lower house”. On this subject, blogger and analyst John Ackerman [es] labelled Sicilia's position as prideful and dismissed it as a display of total disregard for the democratic system.

Javier Sicilia y el pequeño grupo de jóvenes que el miércoles pasado asistió a la Comisión Permanente pecan de soberbia: “No venimos a pedirles, sino a exigirles que aprueben la reforma política. Si tienen que convocar a un periodo extraordinario o trabajar horas extras es su problema: la aprueban, es un mandato ciudadano… Apruébenla como se las mandó el Senado”. Los manifestantes demuestran un preocupante desconocimiento de los procesos democráticos al erigirse en representantes de un inexistente mandato ciudadano y exigir que en lugar de discutir las reformas los diputados se comporten como meros levantadedos.

Javier Sicilia and his little group of youths who went to the Permanent Commission last Wednesday commit the sin of pride: “We are not going to ask them, but to demand that they approve constitutional reform. If they have to convene for an extraordinary period of time or work extra hours that is their problem: that they approve it is their civic duty… Approve it just like they ordered the senate.” The protesters demonstrated a staggering deviation from democratic process and built upon it with  representatives of a non existent “civic duty” and to demand that instead of discussing reforms the members of parliament behave like mere pencil pushers.

This “constitutional reform” is not the only item on the legislative agenda that drives the movement lead by Sicilia. The discussions on the amending of the National Security Law (previously reported on Global Voices) have elicited reactions from Sicilia which have been reported by Jenaro Villamil [es]:

El tiempo del cachondeo y los testimonios ha terminado. Ahora inicia la verdadera negociación entre el movimiento ciudadano encabezado por Javier Sicilia y los legisladores en torno a una de las leyes más polémicas: la Ley de Seguridad Nacional. Invisibles, pero presentes, también están en el proceso los representantes de las Fuerzas Armadas (Ejército y Marina), los asesores de Calderón en su “guerra” y el silencio que pesa de 50 mil muertos en una estrategia polémica.

Las palabras fueron duras por parte de Javier Sicilia: “traidores”, “nos han dado la espalda”, “no se puede negociar con quienes no hablan con la verdad”. Estas fueron las frases más difundidas por los medios y que cayeron como bomba después que los integrantes de la Comisión de Gobernación, presidida por el diputado panista Javier Corral, aprobaron en lo general una minuta proveniente del Senado, que fue discutida durante meses y “congelada” en la Cámara de Diputados.

The time for jokes and testimonies has passed. Now begins the true negotiation between the citizen movement, headed by Javier Sicilia and the legislators in the case of one of the most controversial laws: the National Security Law. Unseen, but present, are also representatives of the armed forces (Army and Navy), Calderon's consultants in his “war” and the silence of the weight of 50,000 dead in a polemic struggle included in the process.

In the harsh words of Javier Sicilia: “traitors”, “they've turned their backs on us”, “we can't negotiate with people who don't speak the truth”. These were the words that spread most throughout the media and dropped like a bomb after the members of the Government Commission, presided over by panista (member of the PAN) government representative Javier Corral,  generally approved the bill that came from the Senate and was debated for months and then “frozen” in the House of Representatives.

Javier Sicilia, image by Pepe Rivera on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The most recent of the protests pushed forward by the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity was the march that took place on Sunday August 14, 2011. As a result, the portal Pateando Piedras [es] (Stepping Stones) stresses the notion that the movement seems weakened and provokes the question of whether Sicilia will be heard:

No fueron muchos, apenas unos centenares, pero esta vez frente al senado Javier Sicilia recapituló el infierno y la gloria del Movimiento por la Paz con Justicia y Diginidad y puso en el centro del debate la cuestión del debate legislativo sobre la Ley de Seguridad Nacional, prueba de fuego para su agrupación cívica. En resumen, habrá diálogo si la voluntad de trabajar sin albazos ni trampas se concreta y se escuchan otras propuestas para una Ley de Seguridad Ciudadana y Humana.

El reto está planteado, el movimiento debilitado en las calles y la gran capacidad de interlocución de Javier Sicilia con los poderes del estado ha sido convertida en un reto de claridad y juego limpio por el propio poeta doliente.

Son, pues, horas de definición.

¿Le harán caso esta vez o se concretará el albazo?

They weren't many, just a few hundred, but this time in front of the Senate Javier Sicilia reignited the furnace and the glory of the movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity and put an emphasis on the legislative National Security bill debate in question, a walk over hot embers for his civic movement. All in all, there will be talks if the willingness to work without just skimming through the process or without deception are actually sincere and if they listen to other proposals for a Citizen and Personal Security Law.

The challenge has been met, the movement debilitated in the street and the great skill and charisma of Javier Sicilia coupled with the powers of state has turned into a challenge of clarity and fairness by the afflicted poet himself.

These are, therefore, crucial moments.

Will they make good of their promises or will they just skid through this?

On this same vein, blogger Sopitas, informs about the movement's next activity:

Esta marcha fue particularmente triste, no sólo por los testimonios de las víctimas, sino también porque esta manifestación tuvo una cantidad muy reducida de asistentes. Quizá no apoyen a Javier Sicilia o cualquiera de los movimientos contra la militarización, corrupción o violencia, pero es importante que la gente sepa y esté conciente (sic) de lo que está sucediendo en el país, principalmente que dejemos de ser una sociedad indiferente a la situación en la que vivimos.

La marcha concluyó con una invitación a toda la gente para que asistan a la Caravana del Sur, la cual partirá la segunda semana de septiembre y llegará hasta Guatemala, con el objetivo de recopilar las historias y consolar a todas las víctimas del sur de nuestro país y nuestros vecinos centroamericanos.

This march was particularly sad, not only because of the testimonies of the victims, but because the protest had such a reduced number of participants. Maybe they don't support Javier Sicilia or any other movement against military rule, corruption or violence, but it's important that the people know or be conscious [sic] of what took place in the country, mainly that we have stopped being an indifferent society about the situation that we live in.

The march concluded with an open invitation to come to La Caravana del Sur (Southern Caravan), which will head out on the second week of September and reach as far as Guatemala, to compile stories of victims and to offer consolation to those in the south of our country and neighbouring Central-Americans.

The activities of the once poet and journalist Javier Sicilia, as well as the organisation he runs, are commented upon and followed on the internet by analysts and bloggers, generating contrary opinions for which the only common denominator is the hope that the situation in Mexico may change for the good of all Mexicans.

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

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