On March 12, 2006 Fernando Suarez del Solar , Pablo Paredes , Camilo Mejia and Aidan Delgado led a coalition of the willing across a 241 mile quest for peace aimed at raising Latino voice of opposition to the War in Iraq! Photos and report: 241 mile California March for Peace
To mobilize and publicize resistance within the Latino community to the war in Iraq, Fernando Suarez de Solar, the father of U.S. Marine Jesus Alberto Suarez de Solar, led a historic peace march from Tijuana to San Francisco, from March 12-March 27.
Jesus Alberto was killed in the first week of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The Army lied to Fernando about the cause of his son’s death and he went to Iraq to seek the truth. Since his son’s death, Fernando, has become an outspoken anti-war activist.
Joining him as march leaders were three Latino war resisters who stood against war while still in the military: Pablo Paredes, Camilo Meijia, and Aidan Delgado.
Pablo Paredes was in the U.S. Navy when, in opposition to U.S. policies, he refused to board his ship, headed for the Persian Gulf. He was court-martialed and sentenced, and after serving his time, discharged.
Camilo Meijia was a member of the National Guard who served one tour in Iraq, refused to return, was court-martialed and served nine months in military prison.
Aidan Delgado served with the Army at Abu Ghraib when he realized he could not support the war. He applied for conscientious objector status and was separated from the service. All three have become prominent anti-war activists.
Prominent Historian Howard Zinn has called the Latino March; “…one of the most significant actions taken yet to dramatize the movement against the war — especially because it calls attention to the Latino population, the loss of Latino life in the war, and the unrecognized Latino opposition to the war.”
Latinos represent nearly 15% of the US population and 11% of the US military, with many serving in combat or hazardous duty occupations. In addition, an estimated 20% of the fallen service members in the early months of the invasion were Latino.
Organizers designed the march route to cover 241 miles, the distance of Ghandi’s famous “salt march” in defiance of the British occupiers of India. Marchers began in Tijuana, where Jesus was born. They went through Camp Pendleton, from where Jesus and many other Marines were deployed to Iraq. In La Paz, they paid their respects at Cesar Chavez’s burial site.
People from local communities, as well as veterans and anti-war activists joined segments of the march as it continued northward.
Nearing the 200 mile mark Fresno area youth infused the long march with a burst of high energy as the march made the 15 mile trek across the city. In Watsonville the march swelled to over 2,500 people chanting for peace as well as an end to racist anti-immigrant bill HR4437. Later in the day the march made its way through Salinas and was again joined by thousands moved to make a stand for peace and justice.
On the final day of the march, Oaklands’ Fruitvale District, a predominantly Latino community, welcomed marchers with coffee and pastries at 7am as they arrived at Fruitvale BART station. The march weaved through the community stopping at school after school and was greeted by students’ applause and chanting for peace. After a rally at Laney, a local community college, marchers took the BART train to San Francisco and arrived amid mass protest as students staged a massive walk-out against anti-immigrant legislation HR 4437.