NOTE: Popular Resistance’s trade and climate justice organizer Mackenzie McDonald Wilkins is traveling on the caravan. Please click here to visit his fundraising page if you can make a donation to support his participation. All participants are expected to raise $2100 which goes to the caravan for food, travel and housing.
Global Exchange is organizing an End the Drug War, “Caravan for Peace, Life, and Justice” that will travel through five countries from Honduras to New York City on the eve of next April’s UN General Assembly’s Special Session (UNGASS) on Drugs.
Giving Voice to Victims and Visibility to the Global Call for Drug Policy Reform
For decades, international policies to prohibit drug use have been a colossal and violent failure. Not only has prohibited drug use grown dramatically, so have violent criminal organizations that use the vast profits from their illicit trade to arm themselves and generate corruption at all levels of our societies.
The war on drugs has not only failed in its stated goal of reducing drug abuse – but has created a violent, militarized and politically powerful underworld that operates its criminal trade with high levels of impunity. The cost of this war is measured in hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions incarcerated, and more than a trillion dollars spent.
As violence has surged in Mexico and across the region in recent years, serious discussion of drug policy reform has gained traction in Latin America. The urgent need for a new kind of international drug policy – guided by principals of public health, human rights and harm reduction – is evident. The discussion about potential alternatives to the current drug policy regime has gone from quiet whispers to more assertive calls for action in many countries across the hemisphere.
UN General Assembly’s Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS): A Watershed Moment
The UNGASS scheduled for April 19-21, 2016 in New York City provides a unique political opening to make visible both the contradictions of the world’s longest running war, as well as the growing international will to end it, in the United States and on the world stage.
That’s why next spring, when the UNGASS convenes in New York City, people from around the globe will converge in New York to promote bold new approaches to ending the drug war, approaches that will prioritize human rights, public health, and harm reduction.
Caravan for Peace, Life, and Justice
In the Americas, Global Exchange, in collaboration with a large network of organizations and activists across Mexico and Central America, is organizing the Caravan for Peace, Life and Justice that will travel through some of the most damaged regions of the continent. It will start in Honduras and travel through El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and the United States on the way to New York City for UNGASS.
The Caravan seeks to encourage and make visible a growing wave of popular discontent with the drug war, while enunciating a coherent message about alternatives that measure their success in terms of health, human rights and harm reduction.
The victims of drug war, including families who have lost loved ones to violence, addictions, and incarceration will be at the forefront of this Caravan. Other key participants include experts on drug policy, journalists, clergy and faith leaders, Latino and African American leaders, students, and others seeking to put an end to the pointless brutality engendered by today’s prohibition regime.
The Caravan will hold rallies, vigils, academic forums, and press events at strategically selected stops along the route. Local groups and activists, including community organizers, students, policymakers, and drug war victims will organize and participate in the local events that will exemplify the impact of the drug war across the Americas.
We anticipate being able to generate a stream of earned media in major markets, and we will take full advantage of the many social media opportunities to build our networks, promote our events, and deepen public understanding of the issues involved. While the Caravan is a discrete event we are organizing it with an eye to promoting the creation of a coalition of groups who will include drug policy reform in their broader agendas and carry on the struggles for reform long after the caravan has passed.
The Caravan for Peace, Life, and Justice is an extension of Global Exchange’s powerful experience organizing Caravans with Mexico’s Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity in 2012 and 2013. These successful Caravans traveled across the United States, and brought powerful new allies to the drug reform/end the drug war conversation, including the NAACP; generated articles or stories in over 1,000 media outlets worldwide; and connected hundreds of grassroots groups, some of whom had never worked together before.
The 2016 End the Drug War “Caravan for Peace, Life, and Justice “ through Meso-America will similarly bring unique, powerful voices to audiences throughout Latin America. The Caravan will support an unprecedented mobilization of people and grassroots organizations from across Central America and Mexico, with a purpose of bringing the human faces and heartrending stories of the U.S-driven drug war to the global stage as the UN as world leaders discuss and debate global drug reform.
To learn more or get involved please contact Ted Lewis, Human Rights Director at (415) 575.5533 or firstname.lastname@example.org