Sep 18, 2011

Movement for Peace with Justice: Two migrants' rights defenders on Peace Caravan detained by military

Note: Kristin Bricker reports for the Americas Program from the Caravan to the South about the detention of migrants' rights defenders Fray Tomas Gonzalez and Ruben Figueroa. Although both were subsequently released, they have been given no reason for the detentions. 

Fray Tomas Gonzalez
Soldiers and Tabasco State Police detained Fray Tomas Gonzalez outside of Tabasco's Mesoamerican University. He was detained for three hours in his car by the following cars: Tabasco State Police patrol cars 332 and 287, and military vehicle 0818304. The official reason for his detention is unknown.

Also detained was migrants' rights defender, Ruben Figueroa. A state police officer beat Figueroa when the men refused to get out of their truck. As they were beating him, they told him, "We will teach you some respect."

The men told the police and soldiers that they are participating in the "Peace Caravan" led by poet Javier Sicilia. The agents responded, "What caravan?"

Amnesty International reports that later, a man in a white pickup truck with license plate number RB94861 stopped nearby and yelled at the police and military, "Take him away!" The man yelled at Fray Tomas, "Conniving Indian! You're worthless!" and "Here there aren't any witnesses, I'm going to kick the shit out of this jerk."

Fray Tomas has repeatedly denounced authorities' complicity with the drug cartels that pray upon Central American migrants who pass through Mexico to reach the United States. Friday night he stated that despite a recent purge in the government's National Migration Institute (INM), immigration agents are still in collusion with drug trafficking organizations. The purge occurred because immigration agents were detaining migrants and handing them over to drug cartels.

Fray Tomas was one of the organizers of the Peace Caravan event in Palenque, Chiapas. There, in an interview, he stated that he told authorities fifteen days ago that he knows where 40 migrants are being held hostage by criminals in Tabasco. He said he offered to accompany authorities to the house where they're being held, and authorities refused to act.

Fray Tomas has received threats for his work with migrants, the most recent being a death threat last week. The National Human Rights Commission ordered that the government provide him with "protective measures," that is, a police escort. The government has not complied with this order, forcing Fray Thomas to take his case to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, where it is still pending.

A version of this blog was first posted on Kristin's blog at:

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