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Mexican poet plans Juarez march as more troops head to border

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Juarez "is the symbol that the country is torn," poet Javier Sicilia says
  • Mexico's government announces plans to send 500 more troops to Tamaulipas
  • A government spokesman also says top officials will meet with Sicilia's organization
  • Tens of thousands marched in Mexico's capital Sunday, demanding an end to violence

Mexico City (CNN) -- A popular Mexican poet who led a massive peace march in the nation's capital last weekend says he's chosen a new battleground for his fight for justice: Ciudad Juarez.

Javier Sicilia said Thursday that he is planning a June 10 protest in the violence-plagued city, which shares a border with El Paso, Texas.

"We must not lose what Juarez symbolizes. ... It is the symbol that the country is torn," said Sicilia, who has become one of the most vocal opponents of Mexico's drug war since his son's killing by suspected cartel members in March.

But Mexico's government has shown no signs of changing its strategy.

On Thursday the country's national security spokesman announced that hundreds of additional troops would be deployed to the border state of Tamaulipas.

National security spokesman Alejandro Poire also told reporters that top federal officials were willing meet with representatives from Sicilia's Network for Peace and Justice. The organization planned the 50-mile (80-kilomter) march that brought tens of thousands of people into Mexico City's central square Sunday.

Demonstrators demanded that government officials sign a national pact that included "demanding an end to the strategy of war," the removal of corruption from all three levels of government in less than six months, and the quick solving of several notable high-profile cases -- including the killing of Sicilia's son.

Sicilia also demanded the resignation of Mexican Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna, a key architect of the country's crime-fighting policies. But Poire said Monday that the government supported Garcia, praising his efforts to stamp out corruption in Mexico's police.

Poire announced Thursday that the government would send 500 troops to Tamaulipas, which has seen a spike in violence as drug gangs fight over disputed territory.

An intensifying rivalry "marked by broken alliances and constant revenge" between the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas drug gang has caused a significant increase in drug-related deaths in the state, Poire said.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has deployed about 50,000 troops to the nation's trouble spots since he began a crackdown on cartels shortly after taking office in December 2006.

Since then, Mexican authorities estimate that more than 34,600 people have been killed in drug-related violence.

Sicilia has become one of the loudest critics of Calderon's approach.

"There are good people in the army, but the structures of the institutions are very bad. The police are not carrying out justice," he said at last weekend's march.

Sicilia's 24-year-old son was found dead on March 28, crammed into a car with six other bodies in Cuernavaca. Masking tape was wrapped around the victims' heads, faces, wrists and ankles.

The case has captivated the Mexican public and drawn the attention of some of the country's top leaders.

Authorities believe all seven victims suffocated to death, and they have said members of Mexico's Pacifico Sur cartel are responsible.

On Wednesday Sicilia's attorney said extortion could have been the motive behind the attack.

Attorney Julio Hernandez Barros said confessions from two arrested in the slaying indicated local police may have been among a group that attacked Sicilia's son.

Journalists Mauricio Torres and Oscar Guadarrama from contributed to this report.