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Mexican 'Peace Caravan' Demands End to Drug War


A protester holds up a sign during a demonstration in front of the Angel of Independence monument in Mexico City February 13, 2011. At least 200 people from civil organizations participated in the march to demand increased security and a stop to violence in Mexico, according to local media. The sign reads: "No more blood". (REUTERS / Henry Romero)

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico - Hundreds of Mexicans taking part in a "peace caravan" to protest against the violent drugs war have arrived at their destination of Ciudad Juarez.

The week-long journey was led by poet Javier Sicilia, whose son was killed by suspected drug-gang hit-men in March.

Mr Sicilia wants Mexico's army pulled off the streets and more done to prosecute drug cartel members and seize their assets.

President Felipe Calderon has said withdrawing the army is not an option.

Nearly 35,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence since Mr Calderon deployed the army in the fight against the cartels in 2006.

Ciudad Juarez, on the border with the United States, has become the front-line of Mexico's drug war.

About 3,100 people were killed there in 2010, more than a fifth of the total in Mexico's bloodiest year yet in the government's campaign against the drug trafficking gangs.

Mr Sicilia and his convoy of about 20 coaches began their 2,500km (1,550 miles) journey in Cuernavaca, south of Mexico City, and criss-crossed the country.

"Do your jobs, stop humiliating the citizens of Juarez, and do justice to so many who have died," Mr Sicilia said after the convoy arrived in Ciudad Juarez.

"This is the beginning of a civil resistance movement to transform consciousness, to start a dialogue in the absence of government policies."

Mr Sicilia and about 500 others signed a pact calling on the government to do more to stop the violence rocking Mexico by fighting corruption, improving the justice system and weakening the cartels by seizing their assets and blocking money-laundering.

He said he would organise more such rallies if Mexico's politicians do not show more commitment to changing their strategy.

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