Friday, October 19, 2012

Central American mothers search for their missing children in Mexico

This woman, identified only as “a Central American woman”, has a name just like her son whose photo she is holding. He disappeared on his journey through Mexico to find work in the US. His mother is traveling in a “Caravana de Madres” with 60 other women whose children have also disappeared on that journey. The women from Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, & Guatemala will travel 2,858 miles (4,600 kilometers) from Guatemala across Mexico to the US border on what is called, “the route of the immigrant.” They are mothers looking for their children; their banner is: “I follow your footprints with the hope of finding you.”

Showing photos of their desaparecidos (missing), the Caravana will visit migrant shelters, hospitals, morgues, brothels, & cemeteries, looking for every clue about the fate of their children. Along the way, they will be hosted by Mexican immigration & human rights activists & organizations; they will attend events & rallies organized by students & other activists at universities & venues in 23 towns & cities. The mothers will share their stories to give a human face to immigrants; they will demand investigations & search procedures by the Mexican government & the exhumation of bodies found in mass graves & in cemeteries, where hundreds of immigrants are buried without identification. They will visit San Fernando, a city in Tamaulipas near the US border, where 72 migrants were massacred & near the sites of several other such atrocities. "All Mexico is a graveyard of immigrants," reads a sign displayed by the Caravana. One hopes they can come as far as the US-Mexican border to bear testimony to the thousands of unidentified immigrants who lose their lives in that crossing, to shout their demands to the US government, & to rally the support of human & immigrant rights activists in this country.

An estimated 300,000 Central Americans make that dangerous journey every year & although the Mexican congress has ruled it legal for them to cross Mexico, the Mexican government, in violation of its own laws & in collusion with the US government, makes that journey one of the most dangerous immigration routes in the world. Immigrants are forced to travel on the tops & sides of freight trains while buses heading north are stopped & searched by federal police for immigrants. Along the route, they face every possible kind of violence, including rape, torture, beatings, dismemberment, kidnapping, extortion, murder. Many are murdered, dismembered, & dumped in mass graves or on the highway. The National Human Rights Commission of Mexico registers more than 10,000 migrant kidnappings annually in Mexico. The Mesoamerican Migrant Movement estimates 70,000 Central Americans have disappeared in Mexico in the last six years--a period coinciding with the deployment of 45,000 Mexican soldiers in a so-called drug war against trafficking cartels. The Mexican government attributes this violence to the drug cartels but they need to explain why so many Mexican civilians & immigrants have died while so few drug traffickers have been apprehended--& why drug trafficking has grown exponentially in Mexico in that same period & has in no way been impeded.

In retracing the migrant route north, the Caravana says, “We are on the heels of impunity’s footsteps. While there is one mother searching for a lost child…we will not stop searching & bearing witness no matter how long it takes, no matter how much effort, danger or work it implies.” In their struggle for human rights & justice, they deserve our most active solidarity. (Photo by Oscar Martinez/Reuters)

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