October 20, 2008
The Search for Missing Migrants
On the Mesoamerican trail of missing migrants, a group of 14 Honduran
mothers embarked on a caravan through Mexico this month in search for news
of their loved ones. Organized by the Red de Comite de Migrantes y
Familias de Honduras, the mothers made stops in Chiapas and the Mexico
City area. The group maintains a list of 589 disappeared Honduran
migrants, including 441 men and 148 women.
“We call them disappeared people because there is no communication with
their relatives,” said network representative Malvia Elizabeth Rivas
Galindo. “But we know they did not arrive to the US, because the last
calls they made were from some place in Mexico.”
According to Honduran priest Luis Angel Nieto, a member of the
non-governmental group Nuestros Lazos de Sangre, at least 4,000 Central
American migrants have disappeared during their journeys north.
Emeteria Martinez Corea is one Honduran mother and migrant advocate who is
determined to find out the fate of her child. Martinez’s 17-year-old
daughter, domestic worker Ada Marlen Ortiz, left Honduras 20 long years
ago only to vanish into the thin air. Martinez later received word that a
young girl spoke with Ortiz but was unable to immediately verify the
missing daughter’s precise location.
For decades now, Central Americans have confronted a perilous road to the
United States in search of work and living wages. Along the way, they are
commonly the target of thieves, extortionists, sexual exploiters, rapists
and even killers, especially in Mexico. Additionally, Mexican federal
police routinely stop undocumented migrants on highways and turn the
prisoners over to immigration authorities for deportation.
The issue is of mounting concern to some Honduran lawmakers.
“We are witnessing the path of suffering they must pass through,” said
Honduran Congresswoman Mirna Castro. “There is a very aggressive policy
An especially alarming trend consists of kidnappings in which migrants are
deprived of their freedom and forced to call relatives or friends who are
then asked to pay ransoms sometimes as high as $5,000.
The problem was dramatically exposed in the Mexican state of Puebla on
October 12, ironically commemorated as El Dia de La Raza in Mexico, after
Central American migrants who had escaped from a kidnapping ring ran
through the town square of Rafael Lara Grajales. Some of the migrants
were naked, and a man was reportedly hitting the fleeing persons.
The migrants accused two local cops of helping kidnappers snatch them off
a train. The kidnappers, who included alleged “Zetas,” then imprisoned the
Central Americans in a safe house situated only two blocks from city hall.
For several days, the victims were subjected to burns, blows and other
tortures before escaping.
Hearing the migrants’ stories enraged local townspeople, who then torched
a police patrol car and two motorcycles. For a brief time, municipal
police were besieged in their headquarters by an angry crowd and tear gas
was fired. Mexico’s official National Human Rights Commission is
investigating the incident, which involved as many as 34 migrants from
Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
For their part, Honduran relatives of missing migrants intend to raise
public consciousness in Mexico about their cause. On their Mexican visit,
the relatives have received support from deported US migrant activist
Elvira Arellano and Jose Juan Hernandez Martinez, an investigator for the
Mexico State Human Rights Commission. Reporting preliminary advances, the
Hondurans encountered promising leads about the whereabouts of at least 15
migrants possibly living in Chiapas.
Sources: La Jornada, October 7, 11, 13, 17 and 19, 2008. Articles by
Enrique Mendez, Martin Hernandez Alcantara, Javier Salinas, Silvia
Chavez, and the Notimex news agency.
Frontera NorteSur (FNS): on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news
Center for Latin American and Border Studies New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, New Mexico
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About Censored News
Censored News is published by censored journalist Brenda Norrell. A journalist for 27 years, Brenda lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, writing for Navajo Times, AP, USA Today, Lakota Times and other American Indian publications. After being censored and then terminated by Indian Country Today in 2006, she began the Censored Blog to document the most censored issues. She currently serves as human rights editor for the U.N. OBSERVER & International Report at the Hague and contributor to Sri Lanka Guardian, Narco News and CounterPunch. She was cohost of the 5-month Longest Walk Talk Radio across America, with Earthcycles Producer Govinda Dalton in 2008: www.earthcycles.net/
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