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Mexico peace tour: a cathartic turnout against drug violence in San Luis Potosí

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Leovigildo Gonzalez/Reuters

(Read caption) People from civil organizations take part during a rally outside cathedral in Morelia, Mexico, on June 4, as part of a campaign against violence called 'Peace Caravan.' About 500 people started the caravan of 14 buses and 30 cars in Cuernavaca on June 4, to protest against high levels of crime in the country.

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As Javier Sicilia's caravan reaches the main square of San Luis Potosí, in Mexico's northern central highlands, the town's central Plaza del Carmen seems pretty empty. The caravan, which is headed to Ciudad Juárez on the US-Mexico border, is made up by dozens of cars and 13 buses – three of which are reserved for the media.

In the square, it is mainly the journalists that can be seen, surrounding and interviewing every possible local around, and only a bunch of Potosinos sit on the steps surrounding the square, observing quietly.

Mr. Sicilia, a poet, proposed to drive 1,500 miles to visit those cities and states in Mexico that have been most affected by narco-related violence. Sicilia organized a very successful march in early May that he called for after the death of his son.

But it is the second day since the new caravan left Cuernavaca, and a question has emerged: Given the relatively low local participation, is the caravan flop?

On the edge of cartel territory

An important mining town, San Luis was named after the rich mining town of Potosí in Bolivia, which the Spaniards hoped it would be able to rival in its silver production. The town's colonial center remains impressive and the city, which was traditionally quiet, has seen a rise in violence in the past year – like many other cities in the country – because of its vicinity with neighboring Tamaulipas state, which has come to be associated with the reign of the notorious Zeta drug cartel.

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