Peace caravan spotlights rights of migrants in Mexico
Summary of story from Safe World for Women, September 18, 2011
Every year some 500,000 Central Americans leave their countries and cross Mexican territory to escape poverty and seek a better life in the United States. But the trek across Mexico has proved a fatal trap for many of them.
They risk harassment, sexual abuse, extortion, robbery and kidnapping by immigration agents and police, and are assaulted, raped, held up, kidnapped and sometimes killed by gang-members and thieves.
A Peace Caravan organised by the movement of victims of the war on drug cartels in Mexico, crossed the Suchiate river recently.
It aims to build bridges between victims of the war on drugs and those who have suffered from the structural violence of the state, which criminalises poverty and social protest. It also seeks to spotlight the plight of migrants as they travel through Mexico.
A young woman called Lucia was just one of many who decided to join the Caravan.
“We came to represent our organisation (the Campesino Unity Committee), because there is a lot of crime, a lot of poverty, and many people are being killed or are victims of extortion in Mexico,” she said.
Honduran schoolteacher Camila Meléndez said: “We ask (Mexican President) Felipe Calderón, as well as organised crime, to please stop mistreating migrants.”
According to official statistics and social organisations, 40,000 people have been killed, 10,000 have disappeared and 700,000 have been displaced since President Calderón took office in December 2006 and militarised the war on drugs.