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Poet Javier Sicilia, whose son was killed in Mexico's wave of organized crime violence last year, called for the United States to legalize drugs and restrict weapons sales as his Caravan for Peace began its journey in San Diego on Sunday. The caravan will stop in more than 20 U.S. cities on its way to Washington, D.C.
More than 150 gathered at Friendship Park at the San Diego-Tijuana border at midday Sunday for the start of the caravan. The caravan then headed to the University of San Diego for a mass and a talk by Sicilia before heading to Chicano Park for an evening rally.
"I don't understand why they aren't legalizing drugs and restricting arms," Sicilia said of U.S. authorities.
Among those forming part of the caravan or attending its events were family members of victims of Mexico's violence.
Rosario Villanueva, (left) who lives in Imperial Beach, said her son Oscar Herrera Rocha of Tijuana disappeared along with three others on June 15, 2009, when he was visiting Coahuila state. Policemen have been implicated and detained in the young men's disappearance, but information about where the victims are has not been forthcoming. El Mexicano story on Oscar Herrera disappearance.
El Debate story on Oscar Herrera disappearance.
Also at USD was María Herrera, of Pajacuarán, Michoacán, who has four sons among the disappeared. In 2010, two her sons disappeared along the Puebla-Veracruz highway in Poza Rica; two others disappeared in 2008 Atoyac de Alvarez, Guerrero.
Story on website about Familia Michoacana organized crime group mentioning María Herrera and her sons.
La Voz de la Sierra story says two sons had been traveling with two others to buy gold in Vega de Alatorre, Veracruz, when they disappeared in 2010. Two other brothers apparently disappeared at the hands of authorities in Guerrero state in 2008. She has a remaining son, Juan Carlos.
Photo shows María Herrera pointing to photos of her four disappeared sons.
Miguel Angel Osuna, a priest at Nuestra Señora de la Incarnación, delivered the mass. USD Associate Minister Erin Bishop read a list of victims of the violence, including the name of Sicilia's son, Juan Francisco, that brought many in attendance to tears.
Story on Sicilia's appearance in Tijuana last year.
Story about Sicilia and presidential candidates.
Saturday's mention of peace caravan.
Los Angeles Times' Steve Lopez writes about Sicilia and the caravan in advance of its visit to Los Angeles.
Aug. 18: Columnist Leo Zuckermann sings Sicilia's praises (PDF).
Aug. 19: Sicilia with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, says he is addicted to racism.