LOS ANGELES — A "peace caravan" has reached Los Angeles in search of Hollywood support for its crusade to end to the US war on drugs, which organizers blame for the violence tearing up Mexico.
"The artists are the opposite of the barbarity we are living with," said Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, who launched the campaign against the drug war in his homeland after his son's murder last year.
Sicilia led his protest caravan across the Mexican border to San Diego Sunday, the start of a month-long swing to press his group's message that US drug polices are fueling the violence in Mexico, where over 50,000 have been killed since 2006.
On hand to welcome him to Los Angeles on Monday was Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, the Oscar-nominated director of "Biutiful" and "Babel."
"What unites us is grief for what Mexico has lost, which is peace," Gonzalez Inarritu said.
The protesters, backed by a slew of civic organizations, are pressing for a change in US policy that would treat drug use more as a public health problem than a criminal matter.
They are also pushing for tighter controls on the sale of weapons in the United States, which the Mexican government says is helping to fuel drug violence on its side of the border.
Participants will head east along the US-Mexico border for over 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles), with stops in Santa Fe, El Paso, Houston, Montgomery, New Orleans, Chicago and New York before ending their journey in Washington on September 10.