Thursday, August 26, 2010

Salvadoran migrants part of massacre

Media sources in El Salvador and the rest of the world have been filled with the reports of the massacre of 72 presumed Central and South American migrants. According to the lone survivor of the massacre, they had been killed by members of the Zetas, one of the Mexican drug cartels engaged in a brutal drug war. Gunmen stopped a truck carrying the victims, demanding a ransom or to recruit the migrants. When they could not or would not meet the demands, the massacre began, according to the witness who managed to escape. The massacre took place on remote ranchland about 90 miles from the southern US border.

Of the bodies which had been identified by this evening, six were reported to be Salvadorans.

The path from Central America towards an illegal crossing into the US has become more and more deadly as gangs, drug cartels and corrupt authorities prey on the migrants. From the Wall Street Journal:

Human-rights groups, however, say Mexico's government has done little to protect migrants on its turf. More than a dozen Mexican rights groups in March presented a case against the Mexican government at the Inter-American Human Rights Commission of the Organization of American States, arguing Mexico was systematically violating the rights of illegal migrants.

An estimated 20,000 migrants are kidnapped each year in Mexico, according to a study last year by Mexico's National Human Rights Commission. In as many as 200 cases, the abductions were carried out by local police or in collusion with police forces, the report said.

"In many cases, they are victims of federal and local authorities, especially those involved in public security, who brutally beat them, humiliate them, and extort them," the report said, adding that Mexican courts showed little urgency in prosecuting such crimes.

From the Christian Science Monitor:

Not only are they targeted for money, says Mr. Poire, but they are also seen as potential recruits for drug cartels locked in a deadly battle that has taken 28,000 lives since 2006, when [Mexican president] Calderón sent the military to fight organized crime....

The journey through Mexico has become more and more treacherous as suspected drug traffickers branch out into other businesses, including human trafficking. They are increasingly targeting migrants in a variety of ways, say analysts, authorities, and migrants.

Migrants are often victims not only because they are presumed to have cash on hand, but because many have relatives with cash in the US. This was confirmed to the Monitor during interviews with migrants at Tultitlan in central Mexico, a crossing ground for many heading to America.

At a shelter in Tultitlan, migrants say they are victims both of Mexican authorities seeking bribes and Mexican gangs who beat them for their cash, and worse, kidnap them in hopes of getting ransom from relatives in the US.


Amnesty International calls the attacks on and abuse of migrants in Mexico a human rights crisis. You can read its report from earlier this year here and watch a video on the topic at this link.

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