Nov 1, 2011

Movement for Peace Creates Day of the Dead Offering in the Center of Mexico City

Today and tomorrow Día de los Muertos is celebrated in Mexico. At the Angel of Independence, Mexico City's most visible monument, the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, led by Javier Sicilia, has created a huge 'ofrenda,' an altar offering to the dead of the drug war.

Original in Spanish, EFE/CNN Mexico with a video report showing the offering. Translation and added photos by Reed Brundage, AMB

Filled with candles and crosses and with written names that tell stories, the monument to the Angel of Independence in Mexico City has become a huge Day of the Dead altar to honor the victims of violence in order, as the poet Javier Sicilia said , "to make the cry of the dead through the living."

For hours, dozens of members and supporters of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, which Sicilia leads, built crosses from cardboard, wood and nails, painted them white and placed them on the steps and lawn of this major monument located in the Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City.

They wanted everything ready so that, at night’s arrival, the candles were lit and the vigil, "A Glimmer in the Dark," would make sense, making more visible than ever all those names that, in Sicilia’s opinion, some want to forget. "To forget the dead is to forget our history, to lose memory is to lose ourselves as a country. Without memory we have social Alzheimers. That's a loss of identity, a loss of the being of a country," said the poet Sicilia, who appeared when the first candles were lit.

He lit several candles in honor of the 50,000 deaths which, according to the organization, have occurred in Mexico since the beginning of the government of Felipe Calderon in December 2006. These deaths include the poet's son, Juan Francisco, whom several criminals killed in March, along with six other people in the state of Morelos.

Since that day, Sicilia has said that he has left poetry behind and spends all his strength to fight so that other parents do not have to go through the same thing. He organized the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, and has traveled Mexico from north to south to spread its message of peace.

Sicilia returned from the United States, where he was traveling to spread his word and protest to the neighboring country "its responsibility in this war," he said. Although there has been no official response he recounted, "We sowed a seed and we hope they have good ears and understand their historic responsibility for the events in this country."

Sicilia and the Movement demand an end to the anti-crime strategy of President Felipe Calderon that, upon his arrival to power in late 2006, put thousands of soldiers and federal police in the streets.

Among the multitude that worked together to make the Angel into an altar-- typical of the Day of the Dead in Mexico--was Julián LeBarón, brother of two victims of organized crime. "We are here to repudiate what has led to the deaths of so many Mexicans, to honor our dead who gave their lives to protect others," he said. Since he met Sicilia," a person who expresses his dignity," he decided to join his movement to ask for peace.

"Rigoberto Sandoval Quintero, 28. gunned down along with his father and one other person in Chihuahua, "" Mario Gomez Sanchez, 49. gunned down in a car wash in Huetamo, Michoacán," say two of the crosses planted in the lawn. Cecilia Barcenas, a member of the movement, said that most are blank because, "there isn’t access to all databases and there are some names that can not be made ​​public for security reasons."

"A man was murdered by armed persons en the Colonia Safari, Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, March 30."

Victims are among the participants in the vigil, but most are concerned citizens like Areli Armendáriz. He believes that there is "lack of government strategy," or Antonio Vega, who painted white crosses to ask for peace, or Angelica who spent five hours placing crosses and says they lacked hammers.

Music, prayers, words and a fast will occur during the 24 hours of this memorial, and many will pass by until the end of the open air tribute on Tuesday.

Sicilia also asked that Calderón pay homage to the dead: "As long as there is no justice and peace (... ) we will continue protesting," he said.

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