EL PASO -- The Caravan for Peace is in Texas as part of a cross-country bus tour to raise awareness about the U.S. role in Mexico's drug war.
The road trip started in San Diego a week ago Sunday and includes 26 U.S. cities.
The Peace Caravan rolled up to El Paso City Hall Tuesday morning and packed a city council meeting.
“80 thousand men, women and children have been killed in Mexico, almost 11,000 of them in our sister city, Ciudad Juarez during the past five years,” said City Council Representative Susie Bryd, her voice cracking as she read a resolution in support of the Peace Caravan’s initiatives.
The drug war death toll hits close to home on the border and people attended the City Council meeting carrying photos of murdered or missing loved ones.
Poet turned activist Javier Sicilia, whose son was murdered last year, is leading the peace caravan. He asked for a moment of silence for victims.
“If the U.S. can help Mexico create a war, then now we come asking you to help us build peace,” said Sicilia.
Among the proposals: a voluntary code of conduct for gun dealers to stop arms trafficking to Mexico. Opponents at City Council argued U.S. gun laws are tough enough.
“You lie on this form. You go to jail,” said Lisa Turner about the penalty facing gun buyers who provide false information to gun stores.
Drug cartels rely on “straw purchases” by U.S. citizens who are legally permitted to buy weapons.
It’s just one of the hot-button issues surrounding the U.S. role in Mexico’s drug war. The other: legalizing some drugs.
“We need to get over the fear that drives many of these politicians to say we can’t even talk about legalization,” said Dean Becker, with LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
Becker, a former police officer who lives in Houston, joined the caravan when it departed from San Diego.The final destination is Washington D.C. September 12.
The Texas leg of the trip includes stops in Laredo, the Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio, Austin, and Houston.
“I expect a really good turnout,“ said Becker. “People understand. They have friends, neighbors who have died, that have been caught up in this drug war and they’re seeking a change.”