Exploitation awaits migrant children on Mexico’s southern edge

August 11, 2014

08/02/14 Los Angeles Times

Street childrenThey are called canguritos, little kangaroos, because of the plastic trays of candy, cigarettes and other goods strapped across their bellies.

There is Juan Gonzalez, 10, selling gum for pennies. There are Humberto Vazquez, 11, and Wilmer Hernandez, 13, shining shoes.

And a few dark-skinned girls, none taller than 4 feet nor older than 12, wrapped in colorful indigenous cloth as skirts and offering tired pastries.

The northward passage of Central American children, many without their parents, is a familiar sight along Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala. Though the exodus has been dominating U.S. headlines of late, tens of thousands of youngsters have waded the Suchiate River or floated across it on inner-tube rafts annually for many years.

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Mexico names czar to handle issue of Central American migrants

July 15, 2014

07/15/14 LA Times

barbed wire fenceWith pressure mounting from the U.S. government, Mexico on Tuesday appointed a czar to take charge of largely unimpeded migration from Central America, which sees tens of thousands of people each year enter southern Mexico and cross the country en route to the United States.

Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, in an announcement before reporters in Mexico City, said the new system would guarantee the safety of migrants as well as their eventual repatriation.

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La historia de Juan Méndez: “El Estado mexicano me destruyó”

May 12, 2014

prisonE l Proceso, 5/12/14

Perteneciente a la etnia garífuna –de origen africano–, Colón Quevedo sufrió todos los abusos padecidos por los centroa­mericanos que cruzan México para llegar a Estados Unidos, pero además tortura, discriminación, arraigo y el sometimiento a un proceso judicial sin asistencia consular oportuna.

Fue detenido el 9 de marzo de 2009 en Tijuana, acusado de delincuencia organizada, acopio de armas de uso exclusivo del Ejército y delitos contra la salud en su modalidad de posesión de cocaína y mariguana con fines de comercio. Admitió las acusaciones, afirma, tras haber sido sometido a torturas y tratos crueles, inhumanos y degradantes por policías estatales y federales así como por militares.

En agosto de 2013 los relatores especiales de la ONU sobre independencia de magistrados y abogados, Gabriela Knaul,­ y sobre tortura y otros tratos o penas crueles, inhumanos o degradantes, Juan Méndez, solicitaron información al gobierno de Enrique Peña Nieto sobre la situación de Colón Quevedo.

Méndez visitó a Colón Quevedo el pasado 24 de abril en el penal de Tepic como parte de una gira de trabajo en México que comenzó el 22 de abril y concluyó el viernes 2.

Entrevistado vía telefónica desde las instalaciones del Centro de Derechos Humanos Agustín Pro (Centro Prodh), el cual lleva su defensa jurídica, Colón está esperanzado en que Méndez continúe “en esa misma línea y exija al Estado mexicano que aclare las controversias” para alcanzar la libertad y que le sea reparado el daño. Además de las secuelas a su salud, entre ellas la hipertensión diagnosticada ocho días después de su detención, durante su reclusión cinco miembros de su familia murieron “por el impacto y la depresión”, cuenta a Proceso.

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In Mexico, rails are risky crossing for a new wave of Central American migrants

July 16, 2013

Train Tracks by HeraldicosThe Washington Post, 7/15/2013

At a makeshift church shelter beyond the industrial parks north of Mexico City, the train riders wait under a canvas tent, listening for a locomotive horn. They keep their shoes on and their backpacks zipped. The tracks outside run through Mexico’s central highlands and all the way to the Texas border. The shelter is a halfway point for Central Americans on the 1,500-mile trip north, but many do not arrive here in one piece.

Central Americans have been catching freight trains to the U.S. border for years, risking injury or worse for a free ride and a path clear of Mexican government checkpoints. But at a time when illegal immigration to the United States remains near its lowest point in four decades, the number of Central Americans going north has soared, putting new attention on the rail system that takes thousands to the border each year.

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Church wants to reassign Mexico activist priest

August 8, 2012

The Associated Press, 8/8/2012

A crusading Roman Catholic priest who has defied drug cartels and corrupt police to protect Central American migrants said Wednesday that church authorities are trying to smother his activist work with migrants by assigning him to parish duties.

The Rev. Alejandro Solalinde has become well known in Mexico after enduring death threats for publicly denouncing drug gangs and police who rob and kidnap Central American migrants crossing Mexico to reach the United States.

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Central Americans flood north through Mexico to US

July 12, 2012

The Dallas Morning News 7/12/12

While the number of Mexicans heading to the U.S. has dropped dramatically, a surge of Central American migrants is making the 1,000-mile northbound journey this year, fueled in large part by the rising violence brought by the spread of Mexican drug cartels.  Other factors, experts say, are an easing in migration enforcement by Mexican authorities, and a false perception that Mexican criminal gangs are not preying on migrants as much as they had been.

Central American migration remains small compared to the numbers of Mexicans still headed north, but their steeply rising numbers speak starkly to the violence and poverty at home. The perils of the journey have pushed smuggling fees as high as $7,000, as much as double the earlier rates, for a trip that takes weeks, or even months for those delayed by robberies, health problems or difficulties finding transportation.

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Priest who denounced abuse, kidnapping of migrants in southern Mexico flees death threats

May 14, 2012

The Washington Post, 5/14/12

An outspoken priest who runs a shelter for migrants in southern Mexico has temporarily left his facility after receiving death threats, the shelter coordinator said Monday. The “Hermanos en el Camino” shelter run by the Rev. Alejandro Solalinde said in a statement that the Roman Catholic priest is “protecting his physical safety” until state and federal prosecutors thoroughly investigate the threats.

The shelter said Solalinde is expected to return to his work, but didn’t say when. “International human rights organization that work closely with Solalinde suggested he go away for a while,” said Jose Alberto Donis, who coordinates activities at the shelter.

Donis said the most recent threat came on April 15. Prosecutors in southern Oaxaca state have said they are investigating and are providing police security for Solalinde. Solalinde has become widely known in Mexico for publicly denouncing corruption and abuse of mainly Central American migrants who cross into Mexico seeking to reach the United States.

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