Award-Winning Journalist to Lead Mobilization Against Drug Violence in Mexico

Friday, May 6, 2011

(San Francisco, May 6) -- A prominent Mexican journalist whose son was killed
by one of the country's powerful drug gangs will lead hundreds of thousands of
people in a huge public demonstration in the central square of Mexico City this
Sunday, to call for an end to violence by both the drug cartels and government
forces trying to defeat them, which has led to 40,000 deaths in just the last
four years.

Javier Sicilia this week received the 2011 "People's Choice" Human Rights
Award from Global Exchange, a San Francisco-based non-profit, for his efforts to
weave together a broadly based social movement that is calling on all
participants in Mexico's internecine drug conflict -- from the criminals,
police, and soldiers to the bankers and political officials -- to take steps to
curtail the level of violence.

"We honor Javier Sicilia as both a bereaved father and an outraged Mexican
calling for the end of this violence", said Carleen Pickard, associate director
of Global Exchange. "His prophetic voice has become the voice of the victims of
the drug war, who are demanding dignity and human rights."

In April, seven young men -- including Sicilia's 24-year-old son Juan
Francisco -- were killed for speaking out against the drug cartels. The
well-known journalist and poet chose to make his paternal grief public, and
wrote a public letter denouncing both the politicians and the criminals as
equally culpable for the violence.

"As for you, the criminals, we have had it up to here with your violence,
your loss of honor, your cruelty, and senselessness," he wrote. "You have become
cowards Š who kill children, women, and elders without any human sense. Š [Y]our
violence has become Š sub-human, demonic, and imbecilic."

Tens of thousands of Mexicans have taken up Sicilia's call, marching in
cities large and small across the country in protests organized by a new
anti-violence coalition that includes growing numbers of what has traditionally
been a politically timid middle class.

This Sunday's mass civic mobilization has been endorsed by a wide spectrum of
Mexican organizations and civic groups, and will be echoed by marches and vigils
in many other countries on Sunday, including one organized by Global Exchange at
24th and Mission Streets in San Francisco at 12:00 noon.

In addition, Sicilia will be honored along with the two other Human Rights
Award winners -- Bolivian Ambassador to the UN Pablo Solón and American
toxicologist Wilma Subra -- at a June 1 ceremony in San Francisco. The event
will include a video presentation on each winner and acceptance speeches by Amb.
Solón and Ms. Subra, and is open to the public.

For more information on this year's Human Rights Award winners, the June 1
event honoring them, or Global Exchange, contact John Wilner at or (415) 568-5739, or visit

Extra info: 
MEDIA CONTACT: John Wilner cellphone: (415) 568-5739