Ivan's Place
In honor of the greatest moralist who never lived
Copyright © 2004 by Bill Becker

Contact me     Home page     Table of Contents

The International March for Peace in Central America
December 10, 1985 — January 24, 1986


Return to Introduction and La Marcha Table of Contents.

As we crossed the border from Guatemala into Mexido for the last leg of our "march," my note-taking took a decided turn for the worse. My notes are sketchier than for our previous legs of la marcha, suffer some unexplained time and location anomalies, and are somewhat difficult to correlate with my photos. Accordingly, I sometimes give only my best guesses as to the date and location of the photos themselves.

The photos shown below are larger than for the other countries, mostly because Mexico, as the richest country on our march, provided the richest displays of support for us. Explanatory text, if any, appears directly above a photo. My apologies, too, for the deterioration in my photoprocessing skills; in trying to improve some of the slides below, I clearly lost my color sense.

January 17, around 8 p.m. San Cristobal de Las Casas.
Welcome to Chiapas 1

Best guess: January 18, official welcome to Chiapas. Here we benefit from Ron Ridenour's advance work in setting up media coverage for us. Priscilla on the left, Ron Ridenour in the big hat, and Francisco at the center of the Mexican flag.
Welcome to Chiapas 2

Priscilla gets coffee, location uncertain. Our hosts worked hard to take care of us. Pia from Demark stands back right.
Priscilla gets coffee

Self-portrait after six weeks. I bought the hat in Somoto, Nicaragua. I still have it.

The cathedral at San Cristobal. We will participate in an ecumenical Mass here on Sunday, January 19th.

Sunday, January 19, 1986.

The following several pictures are of the ecumenical Mass at the cathedral shown above. The different tones of the following black and white, and color, pictures make me unsure that they were taken at the same service, even though my notes show only one service.
Children welcoming la marcha

It doesn't get much more ecumenical than this. Margaret from Costa Rica had recovered from the illness she contracted in Nicaragua and rejoined the march. Here she acts as translator during the service.
Catholic, Buddhist, and Protestant relgious

Catholic, Buddhist, and Protestant religious.

An enthusiastic playing of the marimba.

The boys are more interested in the camera than the music.
Priest with children

Three marchistas were selected as participants in the ecumenical service. They were given 3 minutes each to tell why they came, what they saw, and what they hoped for. Here a Mexican supporter and his daughter listen to a Danish marchista tell her story. Margaret translates. Sharing experiences 1

Aurora from Southern California, and born in Guatemala, speaks to the congregation. My notes show that I too spoke from the podium, and that "every aspect of my experience on the march was paralleled in the service itself. Very moving." I specifically recall emphasising that I loved my country, and that I therefore wanted to be proud of it. I recall, too, that later, a woman marcher came up to me and said that my short talk made her cry. Sharing experiences 2

Our diverse congregation.
The congregation

The priest serves the Host. Even non-believers participated in this ritual.

Monday, January 20—Tehuantepec. Bishop Arturo Lona Reyes speaks to us about human rights and democracy in Mexico. Not good. Reyes was an advocate for the poor, and thus was despised by the middle and upper classes. He often slept in a different location each night. Judging by Blase Bonpane's obvious laugh, the bishop must have said something funny. Bishop Arturo Lona Reyes

Peter holding speaks with Bishop Arturo Lona Reyes. Photo courtesy of Peter Holding.

The following several pictures show us actually marching, and some of the creative banners carried by our Mexican friends. Locations and dates uncertain.

The College of Philosophy joined us. College of Philosophy banner

Brigido Sanchez, the Salvadoran who was arrested and beaten by the Salvadoran military, has not been forgotten. Brigido Sanchez banner

The photo below shows one of La Marcha's most effective leaders, Lawrence "Butch" Turk. (I didn't know about the "Lawrence" part on the march.) I must have yelled at him, and he turned to smile at the camera. I don't have the name of the woman marching with him.

I am writing this on Christmas Eve, 2010. Butch recently shared with me the effect la marcha had on his life. I present it here as he wrote it:

Did I ever tell you that I became a nurse because of the March?

I started nursing school 1 1/2 years later in the Fall of 1987. I was so blown away by Central America and the struggle there that I wanted to go back, but not as just another gringo activist telling them what to do. I wanted have a skill that would allow me to stay and contribute while I learned from the amazing people there how to make change. I considered appropriate technology, but building things with 1/8 inch tolerances always annoyed the heck out of me, so I chose medicine.

It's the only time in my life that I breezed through school without getting distracted.

By the time I got good at emergency nursing the politics of Central America and the U.S. role there had changed. For that and other reasons I never made it back, except for a 3-week stint in Honduras after Hurricane Mitch in 1999. However, the intentional merging of medicine and politics that the March inspired sure took me lots of other places, ones I never would have dreamed of.

See more about the places Butch went here:

This picture, and the following, show the most significant banner I saw on the march. I will discuss this banner in more depth in my conclusion. Cathedral

Anna and Ole in the back, Daniel, and Francisco in front with the Mexican flag. Daniel played a key role in negotiations with various support committees in different countries.

Photo by Peter Holding. Bishop Reyes told us that some of our Mexican supporters walked over 7 hours to be with us. Perhaps these women were among them.

Steven in his natural role as good-will ambassador.

Photo by Sonja Iskov

I believe we are in Puebla. Here I caught a rehersal of a student drama about the assassination of Salvadoran Archbishop Romero.

Date uncertain. I'm pretty sure we're on the outskirts of Mexico City, but I can't correlate the event with my notes. Our young Mexican friends will treat us to another drama condemning U.S. imperialism.

We're ready for the show.

Pia and child. The girl doesn't look too happy to have her picture taken. I hope that she will see herself on this page some day.

I'm sure that Steven actually played a role in the following skit, but I can't tell just what he is doing here.

I don't remember the plot, but the following photos show the essence of it. The visitor will have no trouble identifying the good guys from the bad guys.

It goes without saying that we loved the show.

I think we're in Mexico City proper here. Damage from the devastating 8.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Mexico City on September 19, 1985 was visible everywhere, but I'm not sure but that the earthquake caused the damage shown here.

January 22, 1986.

According to Blase Bonpane's report, we arrived at the Juarez Monument in Mexico City, prepared to march to Chapultepec Park to the Monument of Ni?os Heroes, "to culminate the March with a stirring speech by Archbishop Mendez Arceo." I believe we are on Avenida Reforma, one of Mexico City's main thoroughfares.

Photo by Sonja Iskov.

This river of people seemed never to end. Blase says that fifty thousand people marched with us, including members of the Mexican congress.

As it began in Panama, la marcha ends with the "fist of peace."

This page was completed December 18th, 2005 — 20 years and 8 days from the day la marcha began in Panama on December 10, 1985. It seems fitting to offer it as my 20-year anniversary tribute to all the loving and decent people with whom I marched, and to those everywhere who so firmly supported us.

Please see the reports by Blase Bonpane and Ron Ridenour for more details on this truly magnificent international effort for peace.

I will provide a link here to my concluding essay on la marcha as soon as possible.

Return to Introduction and La Marcha Table of Contents.

Top    Contact me     Home page     Table of Contents

Page last updated December 24, 2010