Saturday, January 24, 2009

Aiding the families of missing migrants

For dozens of years, Salvadorans and other Central Americans have made the perilous journey north seeking jobs and relief from the poverty in their home country. The path northwards is a dangerous one as the article Perilous Journey, from the National Catholic Reporter pointed out:

An alarming number of migrants never make it. In the last three years, the number of migrants who disappear en route has increased as a result of the Mexican government’s tightening of its southern border. An initiative of President Vicente Fox to appease Washington and in exchange ease the entry of undocumented Mexican migrants into the United States, Mexico’s Plan Sur has captured record numbers of Central American migrants and bused them back to their country of origin. Previously they were simply dumped unceremoniously across the border into Guatemala. The move has forced migrants to take greater risks to avoid capture, including traveling farther out to sea in overloaded boats that too often capsize. Every year scores of migrants drown in the Pacific. Or the migrants are forced to trek higher into the thick jungles of the isthmus, risking natural hazards as well as gangs of thieves who prey on the travelers.

The unidentified bodies of unfortunate migrants are piled in Mexican graveyards, and seldom do their families back home learn of their fate. Other migrants are imprisoned in Mexico or the United States, while still others become caught up in criminal activities that lead to their death. Many women migrants are forced into prostitution in border towns like Tecun Uman and Tijuana, and stop communicating with their families out of embarrassment. Loved ones back home are left wondering what happened.

Families from El Salvador facing that uncertainty, whose loved ones have not been heard from after they started the trek to the north, have banded together in an organization known by its acronym COFAMIDE.

From the website of the organization:
COFAMIDE, the Committee of Family Members of Migrants who have Died or Disappeared, was born in 2006 as a part of CARECEN Internacional in El Salvador, an NGO dedicated to the issue of migration, especially to protecting the vulnerability of the undocumented migrant population.

Composed of average Salvadoran women and men who have suffered the loss of a loved one - a son, daughter, brother or sister - COFAMIDE has worked hard to emerge as a reference organization for the topic of migration on a national and international level. Their activities include lobbying the Salvadoran government about migration policy, lobbying the governments of transit countries about the human rights violations occurring in these countries, and attempting to inform the general Salvadoran population about the risks of undocumented migration and the tragedy that the families of migrants who have died or disappeared are living.

My friend Meg described in her blog, marches the group made in 2006 to seek assistance from the Mexican and Salvadoran governments for the creation of a database to track missing migrants.

This video describes the current efforts of the group and its attempts to make the "Caminata de Esperanza", the "Journey of Hope" to search for their loved ones.



Please consider supporting the worthy efforts of COFAMIDE.

2 comments:

Juliet said...

Although I live in affluent Canada and have not lost a family member...yet, I want to help find these people and find out what has happened to the missing and why. I fear there is an enterprise of hatred and greed fueled by mega profits and popular culture behind it all. My heart joins these families in prayer and whatever can be done, I ask God that His will be done and soon. May God protect his children and caste the wicked into further darkness!

Anonymous said...

About 4 month ago. My wife's brother was on his way to the US illegally. We received a call from some guy claiming that he was in LA and that he needed the money for crossing him over. That was the message that the family in honduras received. They wanted the name and phone number of a loved one in the US. When my wife called the guy, the story shifted to a ramson message asking for money or we will never see him again alive for that matter. The cell phone number was indeed a us number. Luckly her brother got away. He told us over the phone about the chilling story about all those people held captive buy mexican authorities and other's involved in the scheme. It is real and horrofying, but I do not think it has come to light by meanstream. This is not only happening in Mexico, but in Guatemala as well. Do not know if this is a Mexican and Guatemal coverup.