BACKGROUND: Read the series of posts about our trip to Mexico City to meet with President Calderón to urge him to end feminicide in Mexico:
* 03/19: Preparing for Mexico
* 03/30: Press Conference
The time had come for the meeting we'd been planning for weeks. After a soundcheck for his concert later in the evening, Peter Gabriel, his wonderfully patient tour manager and I arrived at Los Pinos, the official residences and offices of the President of Mexico. We were met by Saúl Hernández of Jaguares, my colleague Tamaryn Nelson (WITNESS), Diego Luna, María Sirvent Bravo-Ahuja (WITNESS Partner Comision Mexicana), Patricia Cervantes (Neyra's mom) and others helping to make this meeting a sucess. We were all escorted into Los Pinos and seated in a beautiful waiting room.
The Attorney General of the State of Mexico unexpectedly walked in our waiting area, along with the Minister of the Interior and the Mexican Ambassador to the US. We all conversed for some time before Tamaryn, Peter, Patricia, Saúl, Diego and Maria were escorted into the President's office. The doors to our waiting area were closed as "The President was arriving." I saw the trees shake, and heard his helicopter land, then he walked past our doors into the room where the rest of our team waited for him.
I stayed in the waiting room with the others, and we were joined by the First Lady, Margarita Zavala. We spent a lot of time talking - as the issue of Juárez is one close to her heart. She was extremely open and I am grateful for the opportunity to have spent that time with her. We gave her a copy of "Dual Injustice" and a few WITNESS t-shirts for her children and family. The Presidential meeting was supposed to last 30 minutes but one hour later they were still talking. I have never before seen a smile as big as I saw on Patricia's face when she walked out of Los Pinos.
During the meeting, President Calderón suggested that participating NGO's provide him with a list of priorities related to feminicide and that authorities meet with these NGO's periodically to review progress on these issues. He also committed to make this process transparent to the general public, within the confines of legal proceedings.
The Attorney General and the Minister of the Interior also both committed to personally follow up on the cases of Neyra and her cousin David.
Here is a link to the press release from the President's Office.
One could actually feel the collective hope that was somehow regained in this one day. It was a monumental moment for all who have worked on this campaign - to see hope return to Patricia's eyes and to know that the Attorney General said that he personally would make sure that there is follow up on her daughter's case. There was expressed political will to work together.
But it didn't stop there: Tamaryn, Peter, and I, along with Peter's tour manager raced back to the car, back with the motorcade to Foro Sol (the location of Peter's concert), writing the press release along the way. Peter whipped out his Flip camera and we recorded the moment for posterity. We finished the release, translated it into Spanish and sent it out literally 2 minutes before Peter's set began.
It was the perfect end to an unforgettable day. Peter and the collective effort of this amazing team brought the voices of thousands of people to the President of the Republic of Mexico. The mothers and families of the disappeared and murdered in Juárez and Chihuahua are not alone. Their voices and the voices of thousands of others who care about this issue were heard today.
It can get fatiguing to fight for justice and feel like you are very rarely seeing real change. What occurred in Mexico City on March 27th injected energy into this campaign and helped us feel strong enough to keep working towards justice in Juárez and Chihuahua.
Peter Gabriel wrote in his song "Biko", "You can blow out a candle, But you can't blow out a fire. Once the flames begin to catch, the wind will blow it higher." We saw living proof of that in Mexico this past week. Thank you so much for your support in helping us keep this candle burning.