Javier Sicilia, the noted Mexican poet turned social activist, leads the trans-border Caravan for Peace and Justice into Washington, D.C., this week.

The caravan traveled the border region from San Diego east, making a stop in Tucson Aug. 16, and participants spoke of their motivations for undertaking the pilgrimage.

Araceli Rodriguez lost a son to the drug-related violence, and she traveled with the caravan from its beginning in Cuernavaca, Mexico.. Rodriguez says her son was a federal agent who disappeared along with six colleagues and a civilian.

“The war against drugs and weapons is not affecting just one person but rather it is impacting thousands of us throughout all the states in Mexico –Mexico is now a blood-stained country,” says Rodriguez.

Caravan prticipant Maria Herrera Magdaleno says she lost four sons to the violence that has befallen her small community of Pajacuarán in the state of Michoacán. She says in spite of being a relatively small community her town has already lost 19 people.

“My primary message is to ‘please join us in our cause,’” says Magdaleno. “We need the support of everyone here in the United States.”

According to figures provided by members of the caravan, more than 60,000 people have been killed in drug violence in Mexico in the last few years. Another 10,000 have disappeared and more than 160,000 displaced.

Sicilia began the cause after his son was killed in March 2011. He founded the Movimiento por la Paz con Justicia y Dignidad (the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity), which has galvanized protests throughout Mexico.