Exactly one year after the discovery of the death of his son, poet Javier Sicilia addressed a crowd of several hundred in Cuernavaca, Morelos with a polemic message about the upcoming July 1 presidential elections.
Since March 28, 2011, Javier Sicilia has headed various public demonstrations and protests through an initiative called the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD). (Read more about his movement and activism here). The initial message was that people were “fed up” with the disastrous public security situation. In his address on Wednesday, March 28, 2012, Sicilia professed, “One year ago we were fed up. Today we are even more fed up with criminals and politicians.”
Sicilia asked the crowd, “For what and for whom do we vote? Why more of the same? When we go to the voting booths, we do not ask ourselves who to vote for, but which cartel. When we null our votes, we send a message to the politicians: ‘Not like this.’” He explained that for the sake of dignity, and as punishment for political parties’ inability to address problems like violence, he would leave his vote blank in the upcoming elections, and he urged other Mexican citizens to do the same. “If citizens had any dignity, they would leave their votes blank. Although it is not supported by any law, it would be a kind of moral suffrage that they cannot take away,” argued Sicilia.
Critics have countered, however, that this type of protest does not allow for real change to occur.
Yet Sicilia explained that leaving votes blank is the only option because not one candidate represents a viable option to change the current state of affairs. In an emphatic tone, the poet stated that going to the voting booths and placing a vote would be the equivalent to “validating the intolerable: that there continue to be beheadings, killings, and disappearances, and that injustice, impunity, and abuses by the military continue.” After a moment of silence during his address, Sicilia explained that a year after this movement began, the demands are the same–”Where are the disappeared? Where are the detainees guilty of these crimes?”
Sicilia stated that he will attempt to meet with candidates in the middle of May to demand that they include issues like national insecurity, injustice, and impunity in their agenda, but he also blames inaction on the apathy of citizens.
Afterwards, Sicilia and a large group of supporters visited the site where his son, Juan Francisco, and six friends had been killed. (Read more about the death of his son here). Several parents whose children have also disappeared or been killed due to drug-related violence gave their testimonies. Sicilia concluded the demonstration with, “These screams are for everyone: [President] Calderón, governors, counselors, legislators, judiciaries, and the political class. Stop with your ineptitude, and, criminals, with your idiocy that is destroying us all! Enough is enough!”
- The War on Drugs: One Year After the Murder of Juan Francisco Sicilia Ortega (slog.thestranger.com)