A group of Latin American activists has embarked on an extraordinary journey through Central and North America to call attention to the multiple intersecting issues surrounding the global war on drugs. The Caravan for Peace, Life and Justice started out in Honduras on March 28, where communities are still reeling from the murder of prominent indigenous environmental activist Berta Cáceres. It then headed to El Salvador and Guatemala, picking up more people, before entering Mexico. On April 19, the caravan will end its journey in New York City, where a special session of the United Nations General Assembly on the World Drug Problem will be held.
Untold numbers of people have died or disappeared in Central America and Mexico as a result of crimes related to the drug war. Powerful narcotraffickers have bought politicians and control paramilitary forces. Rampant violence and poverty have prompted an exodus of refugees heading northward. Across the border in the U.S., the drug war’s refugees are criminalized and housed in prisonlike detention centers, while African-Americans are disproportionately incarcerated for drug sales and use.
The fallout from the drug war is wide, deep and terrible. Across multiple borders, it ties together global poverty, violence, immigration, incarceration and addiction, for which elected officials offer no real solutions.