Mexican Poet Reflects on Drug War

A Poet Rewrites the War on Drugs

by Madhu Suri Prakash

After the death of his son, poet Javier Sicilia gave voice to the anguish of the Mexican people—and started a powerful movement of moral indignation against the senseless slaughter of the war on drugs.

Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Greece, Spain…all these countries’ popular revolts have captured our attention for very good reasons. From Mexico, in contrast, we get only images of a vicious drug war.

But something remarkable is happening in Mexico.

On March 28 this year, the prominent poet Javier Sicilia lost his 24-year-old son, Juan Francisco, to senseless assassination, allegedly by a drug gang leader, just weeks before he was to graduate from the university. Javier transformed his pain—“this is my last poem,” he wrote; “I no longer have poetry in my heart”—into a movement of moral indignation against the mass killings of innocent people.

His public letter to both politicians and criminals gave voice to the nation’s anguish. Like the Zapatista cry:Basta ya! in 1994, Javier summarized the unbearable with Estamos hasta la madre (an untranslatable expression to say what can no longer be borne or suffered). Javier’s pain moved people to join his call for dialogue and transparency with the politicians, police, drug lords, and all those paralyzed by fear into silence. In these short weeks, he has become a source of inspiration for millions. Thousands marched from Cuernavaca to Mexico City, ending with a massive rally in the capital’s main square. Later, this march turned into a caravan that traveled to the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juárez and then crossed into El Paso, Texas, for a rally with supporters.

Those who find hope in this peaceful, democratic mobilization are describing it as a new kind of revolution.

Madhu Suri Prakash, a contributing editor to YES! Magazine,interviewed Javier in July.

to read the interview, go to:

fr/Burnt Norton by T.S. Eliot



Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.
But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know.

to read the complete poem, go to: