Oct 18, 2012

Mothers of Central American migrants follow the tracks of their missing sons and daughters in Mexico


Americas Program Original Translation

For 19 days, two buses with 60 relatives of Central American migrants will travel across 14 states of the Republic, tracing, shouting, denouncing the death, disappearance, torture, extortion and kidnapping of their sons and daughters.


El Ceibo, Tabasco. This Monday the southern border of Mexico will be the door of entry for the Caravan of Hope, made up of 57 people from Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, that will travel across 14 states of the Republic, making 23 stops in search of relatives who disappeared in their attempt to reach the northern border of Mexico.

The eighth caravan of Central American mothers in search of their sons and daughters will travel 4,600 kilometers from October 15 to November 3 aboard two buses. In Tenosique, Tabasco the migrant shelter directed by the Franciscan friar Tomás González Castillo awaits 28 people from Honduras, 19 from Nicaragua, 7 from Guatemala and 3 from El Salvador.

The shelter for Central American migrants “La 72,” named in honor of the 72 assassinated in August of 2010 in San Fernando, Tamaulipas, at the hands of organized crime, prepares to receive the relatives of those missing who seek “to bear witness to the illegal, inhumane and criminal treatment that Mexico gives to migrants in transit; and to demand changes of the government so that it tackles the complicity, impunity and not repairing the damage.”

At noon on Sunday, October 14, the bishop of Tabasco, Gerardo de Jesús Rojas López, arrived at “La 72” to meet with Brother Tomás González, Rubén Figueroa, from the Mesoamerican Migrant Movement, a committee of 24 tzotzil indigenous people from the civil association Abejas de Acteal, Chiapas (Bees from Acteal, Chiapas) and also a committee of women from Atenco.

In front of an altar arranged by Abejas de Acteal, a mass was held in which the bishop of Tabasco, Gerardo Rojas, introduced Servelio Mateo Campos, a 26-year old Honduran man, who has not seen his family for 9 years. Now married with two children, one 5 and the other 6 years old, he will reunite tomorrow with his mother, who is traveling with the caravan that will come to Mexico with the slogan “all of the pain, all of the struggles, all of the anger, all of the hope.”

In the afternoon the Abejas de Acteal theater and nonviolence group organized dynamics with the migrants that stay in the shelter, and each one participated, contemplating their presence in violent and risky places, such as kidnappings by organized crime.

Little by little more caravan participants arrive as well as journalists and friends of the shelter. The cooks sing while they prepare dinner, pleased with the men’s help in serving plates with white rice, salad, a quesadilla, hibiscus water and coffee.

Brother Tomás, content, accommodates everyone in the dorms and provides mats for those staying in the parish; this Sunday night is peaceful, there is time to speak calmly about the details and expectations of the search. That is, of hope.

Press Release from the Mesoamerican Migrant Movement (MMM):
For years the Mexican government denied, until the evidence became impossible to hide, that thousands of migrants were losing their lives along the routes taken by them.

Without there being official statistics, estimates by experts based on different reports and testimonies give figures of around 70,000 migrants missing since the beginning of the “war against organized crime.” From 2006 until present, this terrible situation, far from diminishing, has gotten worse especially in this period at the end of the six-year (presidential) term, during which an alarming increase has been registered in deaths, abductions, the disappearance of migrants, torture, arbitrary detentions, kidnapping, extortion, rapes of both women and men, the selling of organs, and human trafficking, 66 percent of which are women.

The position of the Mexican government is simply to blame organized crime, despite the numerous complaints of complicity either by action or omission. While the government makes the excuses, the migrants that pass through Mexico continue becoming the dead, the kidnapped, the victims of trafficking, those raped, etc. Everything remains the same and with the tendency to increase.

The violations of migrant rights by Mexican government authorities continue

The organization Amnesty International (AI) demanded that federal authorities “reconsider the irregular procedures of migrant detentions in both policy and practice to ensure that they are in harmony with the standards of use provided by the force…” Furthermore, (AI) asked Mexican authorities to adequately investigate the complaints against National Institute of Migration officials for abuse inflicted on migrants, including injuries and beatings. The former is mentioned because in the state of Tabasco many migrants are being victims of maltreatment and injuries resulting from migratory operations.

Moreover, the Central American residents in the area of Tapachula protested and issued a press release, regarding other complaints, that states: “Since the new Migration Law, the hard-working migrant people who counted on legal status in Mexico, upon going to renew our documents, have faced the application of fees that are impossible to pay, from the fulfillment of requirements that had been presented at the beginning of the process to new requirements that are not even reflected in the paperwork turned in by the National Institute of Migration (INM), to the expiration of the FM2 documents. The legal stay documents expire due to the belated response of the INM and in many cases we have been asked to leave the country within days for not fulfilling the requirements.”

Finally, the serious problems faced by migrants in the Tultitlán-Huehuetoca corridor, where, since the forced closure of the San Juan Diego Shelter in Lechería, the abductions, extortions, aggressions and kidnappings by local gangs, brakemen, engineers and police who protect them have increased exponentially, making what we suspected at the shelter’s closing a reality: “The only ones who have benefited are the traffickers in Lechería.” In Huehuetoca the volunteers at the San José of Huehuetoca Shelter are in grave danger. The safe houses are spreading just as train accidents are since it now crosses the zone at high speeds, responding to the defense strategy apparently implemented to declare Tultitlán a “Town Free of Migrants.”

An effort is not made to identify the fallen
Scientists from the Argentinian Team of Forensic Anthropology are exhuming the cadavers of immigrants from the communal grave of the cemetery in Tapachula. Fifteen Guatemalans, Salvadorans and Hondurans reported missing have been identified. There are communal graves in every Mexican cemetery where migrants have been buried without identification, in addition to the clandestine graves and the massacres. These are graves that are not searched, and it is feared that what testimonies along the route have told us may be confirmed: “All of Mexico is a cemetery for migrants.”

The deaths and disappearances are not investigated
Mexican mothers have requested coordinated actions by the federal and state agencies to find the offenders, with very little response in the majority of the cases. At this time all of the agencies are taking action to find those responsible for the deplorable assassination of the son of a well-known politician; the mothers ask “that they proceed in the same way to find the whereabouts of their missing loved ones, to know the truth, to seek justice for anybody, for those without power, for those thousands and thousands of victims of this bloody six-year term defined by death.” If the Mexican government has not come up with a positive solution for its own citizens, less has been accomplished in the case of migrants, despite the numerous national and international complaints.

“Ant” kidnappings are on the rise and mass kidnappings reappear
Organized crime changed strategy from mass kidnappings to “ant” kidnappings to go unnoticed. However, mass kidnappings have reappeared like the one recently carried out in Medias Aguas, Verzcruz, where, according to the accounts of people living in the area, a heavily armed group arrived and kidnapped a group of approximately 30 or 40 migrants that were waiting for the train. And there is no trace of their whereabouts.

Since 2006 the Mesoamerican Migrant Movement has been the official host of the search caravans. On this occasion the caravan is of greater magnitude than previous ones. They are 19 days of travel, two buses on route, 23 localities in 14 states of the Republic, almost 4,600 kilometers, and we will host 57 people from Central America: 28 from Honduras, 19 from Nicaragua, 7 from Guatemala and 3 from El Salvador.

In each of the 23 localities where we stop, we count on the support of a wide variety of Mexican actors in solidarity, who are the local hosts: migrant shelters, collectives, non-governmental organizations, the Migration Institutes of the Governments of Tlaxcala, Tamaulipas and the Federal District (DF), universities, activists and migrant rights defenders, whose names will be reflected in the caravan’s agenda of activities.

The authorities responsible for the issue of migration in the SEGOB and the INM are making it as easy as possible for the mothers to travel around the country with proper documentation, and the appropriate authorities on a federal level as well as state governments have been asked to ensure the physical safety of the caravan. We will be accompanied constantly by Amnesty International and the National Commission of Human Rights.

The presence of the media is always a guarantee, not only to announce the work of the caravan and the causes that motivate them. Its presence ensures visibility, the pressure on authorities, to not allow the obscurity to blur the magnitude of the problem, and it is a tremendous help in locating people searched for by their family members. For that reason, we ask news agencies, correspondents, reporters of the national and international media as well as the communications industry to widely cover the actions that these mothers are taking in this caravan of denouncing and searching for their sons and daughters, whom they last had news from somewhere in the Mexican territory.

Translated by Libby Quintana

Click here to read original Spanish article. 

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