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A different demonstration. What will it mean?

Today we had a very interesting demonstration. People who know me for some time know I like to be a part of demonstrations, adding my voice to the people. And even though I know most demonstrations, as massive as they might be, have no real and tangible effect… Well, I try to be there.

Today we had a large demonstration in Mexico City of people angry with the government’s tactics on the war on drugs — Have you been to Mexico before 2007? You will remember we have always had our problems, but violence was basically limited to keeping an eye open, not flashing your money/jewels, and not looking too touristy. We were, all in all, a quiet country — Known even as “the country where nothing happens, even if it happens”.

Five years later, a good portion of the country lives really in war-like conditions, and close to 45,000 people have been killed. At some point about a year ago (where the body count was at ~22,000), our oh-so-bright de-facto president said that “only” 10% of them were civilians. If that is still the case, and if proportions are held, we can now talk about ~4,500 people killed just because they were there — Oh, but remember the country is not at war, and death penalty has very long been abolished, so we cannot give the other 90% a different status. We have had over 45,000 killed people. That means at least ~200,000 torn lifes.

About six weeks ago, the cry from a father who lost his son started getting heard. And no, I do not want to talk about specific names or anything like that — It is just the voice-bearer of many people who are fed up. Four days ago, he and a group of people left Cuernavaca city on a caravan and walked to Mexico city. Yesterday evening they arrived to the National University (UNAM), and were greeted by an amazing open-air concert: Mozart’s Requiem.

Today, our day started very early. My mother wanted to help, as many more anonymous citizens did, so we started making and packing sandwiches and apples at ~5:30AM, delivered them to the camp where they were staying and grouping with other people, and came back home for our breakfast. Later, at around 9AM, as the demonstration started going by our house (we live a block from UNAM), my girlfriend, father and me started walking with them.

Why do I say this was a different demonstration than others I have been to?

  1. Much longer. We walked for close to 16Km, for about five hours. Most demonstrations I have been part of are 3-5Km long
  2. A different kind of support. I was surprised, even laughed at first when I saw a lady standing by us with a sign that read, «I cannot join you today, but I'm there in spirit». But then I saw more, more people that just went out of their houses to a point close to where we walked on, and just stayed there on the streets. Not walking, yes, but being part of it.
  3. The march was silent — And yes, this is the first time I see it for true. At the very beginning we heard some people chanting, cheering, but the cheerers were requested not to be noisy. People wearing political parties' logos were requested not to wear them (as political parties are at an all-time low prestige). No, we were not silent for the whole 5 hours; we were talking with each other, but it felt... just very different from any other times.
  4. Not only were people supporting, but this is the first time I saw this amount of people wanting to materially help. As I said, my mother delivered a little breakfast for 50 people, for those that slept at the camp, for those that had already walked ~70Km. But all along the road we were offered oranges, cookies, water, bread... Whatever people were able to offer, to somehow help. Very nice feeling of solidarity.
  5. Contrary to all other times, we were really spread out, it was a very low density walk, os it was quite pleasant. Of course, I have not even seen an estimation of the number of participants... And I doubt anyboy can be decently close to it

Will this change anything? I doubt it. I am happy that for the first time, the de-facto president (remember a large percentage of Mexicans still believe he lost the presidential election, and it was only due to his lack of legitimacy that he pushed the army to the streets to start this war on drugs) is recognizing that this might not be the best strategy but it is the only one he has… People are still, despite what I saw many felt, very far from organized. And, yes, no short-term concrete proposals are made on how to stop the killing — I feel the population agrees that drugs should be legalized and regulated, that would at least shift the problem, reduce the direct violence (and money) related to it… But, of course, it is plainly not feasible with our current reality.

Anyway, after a 5hr walk today (and even after a nice nap and shower), I don’t want to dig into hypotheses anymore. I just wanted to share about a very interesting and different experience I had the opportunity to be part of.


Anonymous 2011-05-08 23:48:41

We shall overcome, thought …

..they (governments, I mean, weapon and destruction manufacturers, it’s the same thing) need drugs as an underground money for their dirty business: war. You live so next to the biggest war provider in the world, it’s difficult for things to change. Education, time, a bit of luck is required.

But we the people have the power , not them, those psychos in their suitcases anad big cars. Power is not the brute force, is the simple will to live in peace. We shall overcome.

Lots of love.

Anonymous 2011-05-09 02:15:14

Something seems broken with

Something seems broken with your blog, the link to this page gives a 404 error:

Carlos 2011-05-10 01:24:24

mencioned on spanish TV

As usual, Spanish TV misunderstood (or intentionally manipulated) the whole thing, and showed a “marihuana smokers demonstration”, represented by some punks smoking giant joints.

gregoa 2011-05-09 05:33:34

And it was also mentioned on

And it was also mentioned on Austrian radio news!

gwolf 2011-05-13 10:57:02

Two demonstrations for the price of one!

Hah! I read about that demonstration. It was one day before!