Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Via Crucis In Southern Mexico Draws Attention To Criminal Violence Endured By 140K Undocumented Immigrants Every Year

Kevin Barreintos, 16, from Guatemala portrayed an immigrant crucified in the cross like Jesus Christ to bring attention to the plight, violence and suffering of undocumented immigrants from South and Central America in the hands of criminal organizations while traveling through Mexico.

Photos courtesy of La 72 Immigrant Refuge Shelter "Via Crucis" in Tenosique photo collection.

Immigrant Via Crucis in Tabasco draws attention to the plight of undocumented immigrants crossing through Mexico on their way to the U.S. border. 

By H. Nelson Goodson
April 2, 2013

Tenosique, Tabasco, Mexico - On Thursday and Friday, hundreds of Central Americans in the states of Tabasco, Chiapas and Coahuila, Mexico held their immigrant Via Crucis/Live Stations of the Cross to bring attention to the risks, plight and the suffering of 140,000 immigrants, including men, women and children that is endured every year. They've become targets and helpless victims of violence, extortion, kidnappings, including murder perpetuated by criminal organizations while crossing through Mexico on their way to the U.S. border. Video link (Spanish version) at  http://bit.ly/103bvqf
Institutions from Honduras have reported that 75,000 of Honduran citizens migrate to the U.S. everyday though Mexico. One of the main generating tax revenues for the Honduran national government budget comes from taxes imposed on money sent by immigrants from the U.S. to their families in Honduras. Many Hondurans leave their native country and migrate to the U.S. due to the lack of jobs, poverty and high crime in their country.
The Mexican government also imposes a tax to generate revenue from money sent by national immigrants to their families in Mexico.
The National Human Rights Commission in Mexico reported that 20,000 undocumented immigrants from South and Central America are kidnapped and held for ransom by criminal organizations in Mexico every year.
Fidel Argueta, El Salvador Consul stationed in Tenosique told La Opinión dot com that they have documented numerous military style armed robberies perpetuated by criminal groups affiliated with Los Zetas, but the Mexican Ministry in Tabasco has failed to investigate such cases. The Mexican government has left the undocumented migration of immigrants from South and Central America to organized crime and criminal organizations that exploit, abuse, extort and even murder immigrants, according to human rights activists, Franciscan Priest Tomás González Castillo, who operates La 72 Immigrant Refuge Shelter in Tenosique and Ruben Figueroa from the Mesoamerican Immigrant Movement Organization. Both Castillo and Figueroa have received death threats from a local criminal organization for exposing the criminal violence against immigrants using the Tenosique-Coatzacoalcos freight train route. The federal and local governments have recently assigned municipal and federal police to provide security at the 72 Immigrant Refuge Shelter to prevent any harm or violence against Castillo, Figueroa and about 80 to 90 immigrants that temporarily stay per night at the shelter.
About 300 to 400 undocumented immigrants cross the Guatemalan-Mexican border into Mexico each day, according to the Mexican National Institute of Migration (INM). The INM has reported an increase of undocumented immigrants from South and Central America crossing through Mexico on their way to the U.S. border. In 2012, a reported 88, 501 of undocumented immigrants were detained by Mexican immigration authorities compared to 66,583 detained in 2011 and 70,102 in 2010, according to the INM.
On Saturday, the Tlaxcala state and the Apizaco local authorites began an investigation into the armed robbery of ten undocumented Central Americans, including the murder of two of them traveling from Tierra Blanca, Veracruz in a moving train near the city of Apizaco, El Sol de Tlaxcala reported. Authorities were called to a crime scene at around 6:45 a.m. after five men boarded a freight train in Apizaco with immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras on it and robbed them at gun point. The gunmen ordered the immigrants to give up their cash. They collected between $500 to $1,000 dollars from the victims. Several of the immigrants resisted, Alberto Jorge Mondragón, 37, from Honduras was fatally shot multiple times with an Uzi and another unidentified victim was thrown off the train, who then suffered a severed left leg and arm from the moving train. The other immigrants jumped off the train to save their lives.
Mondragón's body was later identified by his brother, Antonio Jorge Mondragón, according to El Sol de Tlaxcala.
In an unrelated homicide, Kelvin Saúl Cruz Manzanares, 22, from San Pedro Sula, Honduras was fatally shot on early Thursday at the Chontalpa train station in the municipality of Huimanguillo in the state of Tabasco, reported Figueroa. Several other immigrants were also reported injured, but are expected to survive. Figueroa says, it's the current violence perpetuated in the Tenosique, Tabasco-Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz freight train route against undocumented immigrants traveling through Mexico on their way to the U.S. border. Members of an organized criminal operation affiliated with the Zetas rob or collect a fee between $100 to $300 dollars from each immigrant to ride the freight train. If immigrants fail to pay a fee, they are thrown off the moving train known as "La Bestia/Beast, the train of death." 
The Tabasco-Veracruz based criminal organization operates a multimillion dollar transportation and smuggling routes of undocumented immigrants (human trafficking) who often become victims of violence, rape, murder, kidnappings, prostitution rings, drug trafficking and armed robbery.
In last six years, 70,000 undocumented immigrants from South and Central American have disappeared while traveling through Mexico on their way to the U.S. and only 80 immigrants have been located alive, according to Figueroa. 
The train route between Tenosique to Veracruz is known for the massive immigrant killings and disposing of their bodies in hundreds of clandestine grave sites. Only a portion of those graves have been uncovered by Mexican authorities. 
In some municipalities, hundreds of unidentified corpses have been buried by local authorities in unmarked graves.

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