MEXICO CITY — An anti-violence march that began in a central state with a few hundred people and gathered thousands over a four-day trek reached Mexico's capital Sunday, led by a poet whose son was killed by suspected drug traffickers.
People poured into the main Zocalo square, wearing white T-shirts saying "enough bloodshed" and carrying photos of poet Javier Sicilia's slain son.
A few hundred set off from Cuernavaca in the central state of Morelos Thursday, marching silently along the 50-mile route. Turnout estimates varied, but the crowd took up less than half of the main square, which is believed to hold about 100,000 people.
In a speech that drew deafening cheers, Sicilia demanded the resignation of Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna, lashing out at the government for failing to curb Mexico's relentless drug violence despite the deployment of thousands of soldiers and federal police to cartel strongholds across the country.
Violence has surged in the region southwest of Mexico City since drug kingpin Arturo Beltran Leyva died in a December 2009 shootout with marines in Cuernavaca, leading to the splintering of his cartel. Rivals have routinely hung mutilated bodies from bridges along highways connecting Mexico City, Cuernavaca and the Pacific resort city of Acapulco.
Similar turf fighting has claimed more than 34,600 lives nationwide since Calderon deployed federal forces in 2006 to battle cartels.
An unprecedented number of drug bosses have been captured or killed, leading to the splintering of their cartels and fighting that has reached horrific levels, including the discovery last month of graves with hundreds of bodies in the northern states of Tamaulipas and Durango.
Hours before the marchers reached Mexico City, federal police announced the capture of suspected drug gang leader Jose Zarco Cardenas, 22, who had recently begun heading operations in Morelos for a gang that broke off from the Beltran Leyva cartel.