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Bereaved poet leads peace campaign

Mexican poet-turned-activist Javier Sicilia has set off on a cross-country caravan with hundreds of fellow demonstrators to demand an end to drug-related bloodshed.

The caravan of about a dozen buses started in Cuernavaca, a resort and industrial city south of Mexico City where Sicilia's son and six others were killed on March 28.

The caravan is scheduled to arrive on June 10 in violence-plagued Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas.

Organisers plan protest events in at least eight Mexican states along the way.

More than 35,000 people have died in drug-related violence since December 2006.

The killings of Sicilia's son, Juan Francisco, and his friends, sparked protests in several Mexican cities.

Their deaths caused outrage particularly because the victims appeared to have had nothing to do with the drug trade.

Sicilia has called on Mexico's leaders to do more to stop the violence and said civil disobedience is a legitimate response to government inaction.

But he said during a caravan stop-off in Mexico City that his message is not anti-government.

The protest is "against the ways in which this country has been run, the mistaken ways that serve personal interests and do not give citizens a political life", Sicilia told reporters at a protest event in front of the capital's Angel of Independence.

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