Mario Peñalver, a graduate student in the Humanities Program at the University of Chicago, is walking the seven hundred miles from Chicago, Illinois to Washington D.C. to demand an end to the Iraq War and in protest of the impending attack on Iran. Penalver calls for this to be done through the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney as the chief architects of these acts of aggression in violation of international treaties and for other crimes, misdemeanors and abuses of office.
In an e-mail to World Can't Wait and Impeach for Peace last week, Peñalver said:
"There must be some basic understanding amongst us, as organizers, as leaders of impeachment, as to why all our actions must face the doors of the White House. I could state that understanding in my own words. But I would rather begin with the words of one far greater than I, one whose method has proven itself in the history of civil rights. "I'm here," Martin Luther Kind said from a Birmingham jail, "because injustice is here."
Marching to DC is the pinnacle of our efforts because that is where our voices have stopped. Our efforts, in protest - in letter-writing campaigns, in our optimism at the polls - have stopped at the doors of the White House, in which stands one man with his ears covered and his mind set on defiance of the national conscience. How can we continue in our local processes, when those processes, in and of themselves, find no resolve where they matter most?"
Peñalver has committed to embark on his quest on Thursday, June 21st and arrive in our nation's capital by Friday, September 21st.
In accordance with an idea from impeachment activist Sgt. Daniel Fearn through ImpeachforPeace.org, Mr. Peñalver will be carrying with him a small rock, which he will place in a location to be determined near the White House - possibly in the Constitutional Gardens as a memorial to the Constitution of the United States. It is Peñalver's assertion that the Constitution - the citizen rights of which were suspended by Patriot Acts I & II and the Military Commissions Act - is dead. Anyone wishing to meet Mario Peñalver in Washington D.C. and lay a stone with his on September 21st is invited and encouraged to do so.
One stone is insignificant. Piles of stones, or cairns, historically indicate important locations established at critical times. If a hundred people join him, it will be a pile. If a hundred thousand add their rock, a monumental mound will be established.
Anyone wishing to host Mr. Peñalver along the way, providing him with lodging, food, water and other necessities or to arrange for a press conference or speaking engagement along the route can contact either Mario directly or Mikael Rudolph of ImpeachforPeace.org:
~ Mario Peñalver
~ Mikael Rudolph
To learn more about Mario Peñalver's intentions a for travel progress updates of his pilgrimage will be available online at: March for Peace Progress
Mario Peñalver's personal statement:
While faced with the threat of unparalleled destruction and the onslaught of a second war, our efforts against the Bush administration require more than failed attempts and variations of the same old thing. So far, four years later, our demands for the war's end have gone unheeded. Four years have past, and still, our demands for the war's end have gone unheeded.
There must be some basic understanding amongst us, as organizers, as leaders of impeachment, as to why all our actions must face the doors of the White House. We could state that understanding in our own words, but we would rather begin with the words of one far greater than us. "I'm here," Martin Luther King wrote from a Birmingham jail, "because injustice is here."
Marching to DC is the pinnacle of our efforts because that is where our voices have stopped. Our efforts-in protest, in letter-writing campaigns, in our optimism at the polls-have stopped at the doors of the White House, in which stands the only man between us, and troop withdrawal. How can we continue in our local processes when those processes, in and of them selves, find no resolve where they matter most?
Part of the answer is in the question. We must understand as organizations, from those dealing with domestic violence to those fighting drug use in our urban slums, from those defending public schools to those fighting global warming, that all of these fights are fights against a common foe. A ramshackle school, is a vote against Bush. A victim of domestic violence or drug abuse, is a vote against Bush. A melted glacier and a flooded city, are a vote against Bush. Another dead soldier, another country fallen, another occupied city, are votes against Bush.
More importantly (and to answer the other half of the question), when we realize that it is a common foe in the way of our separate ends, we cannot also continue in our actions if these actions show little positive effect on the problem. We have a tumor in our Body. It's lied, it's stolen, it's avoided the subject, it's ducked our demands, it is hidden from accountability... It's fighting and fighting and killing and killing, and it won't stop, until surgeons come-with precision and diligence-to open the body, and remove it.
Tumors don't respond when you ask them to. They don't stop when you demand it. They don't respond kindly to words. You can hope, pray, write a letter, make a statement, list your demands, sign a petition, wave a flag, spell your name in the sand. But these are not the jobs of surgeons.
We are surgeons, the same surgeons who stood in the streets of Birmingham when its black churches were on fire. The same surgeons who stood in a phalanx before the British army and demanded "India for the Indians." The same surgeons who stood in the ancient Temple of Jerusalem and refused to obey the self-righteous demands of the Pharisees. We are surgeons whose only faculty is to face the root of injustice that plagues our every corner of the nation. It cannot be fought and dealt with when we remain in the periphery of symptom. We are destined to face the source of symptom, and so our every effort, our every occupation, must face that source until it is uprooted and removed.
That is why we must leave behind our fractured interests for the sake of a common foe. That is why we must go to Washington. Not a single act of ours outside that end will ever lead to victory so long as it remains outside.
We, organizers of the national "March of the People," believe our president is still in office because he knows some how that his opponents will not succeed in the task of unity. Some how, we think he'd wager money on the fact that liberal (or so-called "liberal") America will remain as it always has been since the early days of the Iraq War: inconsistent, disconnected, and indecisive. While its surgeons remain fractured in their means and ends, busy fighting weeds and rarely pulling roots, our tumor grows, until one day when there is nothing left to take.
Some believe the issue of the president is different from other issues. We've been told that we need to look towards other interests besides the removal of our president. As the argument goes, we are faced with one of many problems in the fight of injustice, so why choose this one, over, say, financial disparities, homophobia, or a fight against cancer. We, students have degrees to finish: What about those?
But avoiding our common effort to redirect the billions spent in waging Bush's war, we avoid the common fact that if billions were NOT spent on that war, we could afford support for the poor, a fight against hate-crimes, better research for cancer. And as for our degrees, we could finally afford them. In 2003 the military budget for this country was over $355 billion dollars. Today that budget will reach 482. Now forgive us when we say that the Bush policy of "more money, more guns" is a policy that also tells us something else: what Bush thinks of domestic violence victims, cancer research, or our fights for urban renewal.
You know what we think Bush is saying when he spends nearly half a trillion dollars on the military? We think he's telling us exactly where we can put that degree of ours.
It is impossible for us to see any injustice in our country and not see the face of incompetence and deceit in the highest seat of office. This is the connection that is made when we walk to the Capital. By walking there, we pass through the ruins of infection left by the man who disregards his people. It is high time we banded together, to remind our president that no person, even the president, is beyond the Voice of the People.
As organizers of the longest march in American history, we recognize that there are those who will be unable to join a march of such time and distance, whether for financial reasons, or due to physical limitations of any kind. To those who must stay at home, we ask for their participation in a national strike, a means by which they can join in camaraderie with their fellow protesters and force upon our leaders the Voice of the People, a voice long forgotten since the beginning of the Iraq War. It is also an effective means by which we can put a non-violent pressure on the man standing between us and peace.
We are here, above all else, to end the bloodshed and the disillusionment of the political system. When it so happens that standing between us and that goal is one man, we as organizers feel obligated to do everything in our power to remove that one man. All else, we say, is just detail.
~ Mario Peñalver
(Contact Mario directly if you are interested in joining the organizing effort or for interviews, etc.)
(Or Contact Mikael Rudolph of ImpeachforPeace.org)