By Luis Alonso Pérez
On March 27, 2003, Jesus Suarez del Solar, a 20 year old marine from San Diego serving in Iraq stepped on a cluster bomb which ended his life.
To honor the third anniversary of his passing, his father Fernando Suarez del Solar is leading a 241 mile march for peace to make sure that the Latino voice of opposition to the war is heard across America.
The march kicked off Sunday, March 12 in Tijuana, where Jesús was born and educated. About a dozen supporters marched through the streets of Tijuana and crossed the border Sunday afternoon, within the next days the march will work its way up to Camp Pendelton, the marine base where Jesus was trained and deployed to Iraq.
According to Fernando Suarez del Solar this is a very special way of honoring his son’s footsteps. “Today I crossed the border legally, the same way my son came into this county looking to fulfill a dream, unfortunately that dream was destroyed by the war. Today I crossed the border to fulfill a dream too, to put an end to the war that destroyed my son’s life”
The march attendance exceeded Fernando’s expectations, he had imagined no more than 10 people marching with him, but to his surprise around 30 people joined the march. The group marched 21 miles and made its first stop at Chicano Park on Sunday evening, where they were greeted by a crowd of local supporters who turned a simple dinner picnic into a motivating support rally.
“Even though I’m tired from an eleven-hour march, the people here make me feel full of energy. I’m sure tomorrow my body will hurt because I’m not used to walking, but this is part of our sacrifice” stated Suarez del Solar, who described the march as a “picnic” compared to the hardships soldiers have to go through in Iraq.
Marching along with Fernando will be Pablo Paredes, a navy war resistor who refused to board a ship headed to Iraq on December 6th 2004, and is now an important speaker in the anti-war movement.
“By now any human being should have reached the point where he can no longer sit in his home and wait for this war to end by itself, so as people with hearts who care about the human race we should find an end to this” said Paredes.
The peace activists will march 15 miles every day and will hold several anti-war events and demonstrations at stops across California. Next weekend they plan to arrive in Los Angeles for the third anniversary of the Iraq invasion, where they will meet with fellow protestors in a peace rally in Mc Arthur Park.
After visiting the Los Angeles area, the marchers will continue their way north through the Mojave Valley and into La Paz, the final resting place of César Chávez. Then they will continue through Fresno, San Jose and will culminate in San Francisco on March 27 with a memorial ceremony and a blood donation drive for American troops and Iraqi children. But for Fernando Suarez del Solar this represents more than an effort to save people’s lives, it’s also a direct message for President Bush.
“Three years ago you took my son’s blood, now I will give my own blood to save the soldiers who served with my son. How much more blood do you need to put an end to this war?”