Thursday, March 14, 2013

"La 72" Mexican Immigrant Refuge Home Activists Facing Death Threats In Tabasco

Photo courtesy of Radio Zapatista

The Immigrant Refuge House "La 72" filed a complaint with the Mexican federal government for a lack of action to protect and provide military security against criminal organizations operating the undocumented immigrant travel routes in Tenosique, Tabasco.

By H. Nelson Goodson
March 14, 2013

Tenosique, Tabasco, Mexico - On Monday, Franciscan Father Tomás González Castillo announced that a complaint was filed (PGR/TAB/TEN/206/D/2013) with the Mexican Federal Attorney General's Office (PGRF) by the Immigrant Refuge House "La 72" in Tenosique. Father Castillo in the complaint is holding the federal, state and local governments and authorities responsible for the safety or deaths of anyone associated with La 72 and undocumented immigrants. Father Castillo, an immigrant and human rights activist says, they have requested protection and assistance from the Mexican military, federal, state and local authorities for La 72 workers, volunteers and immigrants using the refuge house during their journey to the U.S. 
Mexican government officials have been made aware of the dangerous situation and criminal activity in Tenosique for years and yet very little has been done by the authorities and the current Mexican President Peña Nieto administration. The government and its officials have done very little to provide security in the area and their lack of action can only mean that they might be involved or in collusion with the criminal organizations in control of the area. "We can not continue or get accustom to living in constant threat and criminal activity," Castillo stated in a news release. The elected officials and government must be held accountable too, according to Father Castillo. Castillo also called for public solidarity to help confront the insecurity Tenosique is facing today.  
Recently, a caravan or group of mothers representing missing undocumented immigrants from Central and South America visited La 72 refuge house to seek help in trying to locate their reported missing sons, husbands and daughters.
So far between March 2-4, the lives of the workers,, volunteers at La 72 refuge home and Rubén Figueroa from the MesoAmerican Migrant Movement were threaten by known members of a criminal organization (COZ) associated with Los Zetas. Figueroa, Father Castillo and a handful of La 72 volunteers have been providing food and temporary shelter for undocumented immigrants traveling through Tenosique. Figueroa can be found at La 72 helping immigrants during several seasons of the year.
Tenosique in a major travel point where thousands of immigrants catch a freight train to Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz on their way (route) through Mexico and the U.S. border. The train (bestia/beast) is known as the "Death Train or Tren de la Muerte." 
COZ have taken over the immigrant travel routes around Tenosique and charge an equivalent $100 to $300 U.S. dollars to jump on the freight train. Once the immigrants reach Coatzacoalcos in the state of Veracruz, they must pay the quota. The COZ's are based in Veracruz.
Some immigrants have been thrown from the moving train by criminals, if they fail or have no money to pay the quota. Once they reach Veracruz, most likely there is a good chance the immigrants can reach the U.S. border.
Members of COZ manage the travel arrangements and secure protection for the immigrants and constantly give updated reports to their criminal organization. It's become a multimillion dollar operation for the COZ.
The Tenosique area and routes has become a lawless territory where the COZ members kidnap immigrants for ransom, armed robberies occur, women get violated and raped, extortion is prevalent, where hundreds of immigrants have disappeared and murdered. Tenosique is also close to the Petén jungle region on the Guatemala border where legal and illegal merchandise, including drugs get smuggled into Mexico.
La 72 immigrant refuge house had to ban known members of the COZ from infiltrating the refuge home in order to keep the undocumented immigrants from falling victims of organized crime. The COZ has stationed lookouts (halcones) to spy on La 72 human rights activities, according to Father Castillo.
In early January, a complete file of information and testimony by victims of the illicit organized criminal activity was made available to authorities to expose what is taking place at the Tenosique immigrant travel routes. The Tenosique criminal activity information was provided to the State of Tabasco Attorney General's Office, including the PGRF; Tabasco's Governor Arturo Núñez; Carlos Alberto Vega Celorio, Mayor of Tenosique;  Mexican military zone 38 General Rígoberto García and his staff; members of the Tobasco South Frontier Commission and to Federal Senators, Layda Sanores and Ana Gabriela.
Father Castillo and human rights activists are also expected to meet with Raúl Ojeda Zubieta, the Secretary of Government in Tabasco about the current situation involving criminal activity and the risk to public safety that is taking place in the area.
Father Castillo also stated, that in July 2011, the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) made recommendations about security measures to be undertaken, but nothing was ever implemented and the human rights case was closed. Information about the NCHR recommendations was also requested from the InterAmerican Commission of Human Rights and no action has been taken either.
The Mexican Secretary of Government (Segob) was also requested to provide protection and security for human rights activists and journalists in the area, but no action has been taken by the Segob.

"La 72" Immigrant refuge House (Spanish version) link: Video

El Bestia (Beast/Tren de la Muerte/Death Train)

On April 25, 2011, La 72 Immigrant Refuge Home in Tenosique, Tabasco was renamed in memory of the 72 Central and South American immigrants killed at a ranch on late August 2010 near San Fernando, Tamaulipas.

Photos courtesy of La 72 Immigrant Refuge Home.

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