Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mexico / Central America

Illegal Migrants Risk Kidnapping, Rape, Torture on Journey through Mexico
By William Booth
The Washington Post, June 17, 2010
"As the Mexican government condemns a new immigration law in Arizona as cruel and xenophobic, illegal migrants passing through Mexico are routinely robbed, raped and kidnapped by organized criminal gangs that often work alongside corrupt police, according to human rights advocates. Mexico's strict laws to protect the rights of illegal migrants are often ignored and undocumented migrants from Central America face a brutal passage through Mexico, say immigration experts and Catholic priests who shelter the travelers. They are stoned by angry villagers, who fear the Central Americans bring crime or disease, and fleeced by hustlers. Mexican police and authorities often demand bribes. Mexico detained and deported more than 64,000 illegal migrants last year, according to the National Migration Institute. This is far fewer than the 200,000 undocumented migrants that Mexico detained annually just a few years ago. The lower numbers are the result of tougher enforcement on the US border, the global economic slowdown and, say some experts, the robbery and assaults migrants face in Mexico. The National Commission on Human Rights, a government agency, estimates that 20,000 migrants are kidnapped each year in Mexico. While they are held for ransom, increasingly at the hands of Mexico's powerful drug cartels, many migrants are tortured -- threatened with execution, beaten with bats and submerged in buckets of water or excrement.
'They put a plastic bag over your head and you can't breathe. They tell you if you don't give them the phone numbers' of family members the kidnappers can call to demand payment for a migrant's release, 'they say the next time we'll just let you die,' said Jose Alirio Luna Moreno, a broad-shouldered young man from El Salvador, interviewed at a shelter in the southern state of Oaxaca. Luna said he was held for three days this month in Veracruz by the Zeta drug trafficking organization, which demanded $1,000 to set him free. He said he was abducted by men in police uniforms and taken to a safe house with 26 others. [...]"

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