An anti-violence march that began in a central state with a few hundred people and gathered thousands over a four-day trek reached Mexico’s capital on Sunday, led by a poet whose son was killed by suspected drug traffickers.
An estimated 20,000 people poured into the main Zocalo square in Mexico City, wearing white T-shirts saying “enough bloodshed” and carrying photos of poet Javier Sicilia’s slain son.
A few hundred people set off from Cuernavaca in the central state of Morelos on Thursday, marching silently along the 50-mile (80-kilometre) route. City officials said the march swelled to at least 20,000 after the bulk of protesters joined in Mexico City, although some media reported tens of thousands more.
Sofia Zepeda, 19, whose uncle disappeared with three others on a trip to western Colima state, carried a sign saying “No more violence, no more bloodshed.”
“I came because of the problems that we are suffering across the country. We are marching for a free country with social conscience,” said Zepeda, who is from the Mexico City suburb of Ecatepec.
Gruesome violence has surged in the region southwest of Mexico City since drug kingpin Arturo Beltran Leyva died in a December 2009 shoot-out with marines in Cuernavaca, leading to the splintering of his cartel. Rivals have routinely hung mutilated bodies from bridges along highways connecting Mexico City, Cuernavaca and the Pacific resort city of Acapulco.
Similar turf fighting has claimed more than 34,600 lives nationwide since President Felipe Calderon deployed thousands of troops and federal police in late 2006 to intensify the battle against brutal cartels.
An unprecedented number of drug bosses have been captured or killed, leading to a splintering of their cartels and fierce infighting over territory.
Among those marching were relatives of Marisela Escobedo, a woman who was killed in northern Chihuahua state while protesting in front of government offices to demand justice for her slain daughter, another case that provoked national furore.
The poet’s son, Juan Francisco Sicilia, was killed in Cuernavaca on March 28 along with six other people. Some marchers had T-shirts that read “We are all Juan.” Others had signs reading “Marisela Escobedo is here.”
Three alleged drug gang members have been arrested in Sicilia’s killing.
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