The Central American immigrants’ hell

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The road of immigrants through Mexico’s territory with the purpose of reaching the U.S. border and improve their living standards is marked by insecurity and tragedy. Every day, a plethora of individuals coming from countries that range from Guatemala to Brazil, including Honduras, El Salvador, Ecuador and Nicaragua (as well as exceptionalities such as Middle Eastern countries) find death under circumstances where the word “hell” is usually not enough to describe. In the face of this situation, in addition to the local insecurity under which this phenomenon occurs, authorities have acted inefficiently and irresponsibly, to say the least. On the other hand, general population and public opinion only tend to react after scandalous events such as the recent derailment in Tabasco, where one of the freight trains from the company Chiapas-Mayab – popularly known as “La Bestia” (“The Beast” in Spanish), or the massacre of 72 illegal immigrants from Central and South America, occurred in San Fernando, Tamaulipas, during August 2010. Why does the already dramatic phenomenon of migration acquire such nightmarish proportions in Mexico?
The tragedy of immigrants finds its origin from the same set of circumstances that has the country deeply submerged in an insecurity crisis. It is not a sporadic phenomenon or exclusive to one region only. Even though it’s heightened in the border areas, the operation of organized crime groups that deal with human and drug trafficking, kidnapping and extortion, goes along the same path that those immigrants that travel inside freight trains, trucks and buses during the winding via crucis between the two countries’ borders. In most of the Mexican territory, Central American immigrants are victims of criminal organizations that act within a framework of impunity covered up by the irresponsible government inefficiency and corruption. Local, state and federal administrations have not undertaken this issue seriously enough and powers of local police – which are ill-trained and underprepared – are currently exceeded or substituted by criminal groups in many cases. In addition to this gruesome scenario, there is also the fact that the federal institution in charge of tacking this issue is severely affected by corruption. In the first half of 2013 alone, the National Institute of Migration (INM) fired 234 of its employees; 150 of these cases were due to corruption allegations, 70 cases involved apocryphal information and 14 involved drug consumption. In short, an immigrant passing through Mexico has nowhere to turn to.
Another issue of this phenomenon is the case of those who have disappeared, those without an identity. According to some organizations, around 70 thousand immigrants have disappeared during the past five years. If authorities hadn’t already a major problem with those disappeared by organized crime, taking a course of action in those cases of individuals who have been missing in the migrant labyrinths seems an impossible ordeal. Regardless of the fact that they’re not Mexican citizens, authorities still have the responsibility of clarifying and tackling immigrant’s disappearances during their path through the country. Given the aforementioned problem, in an ideal world, Mexican government would create mechanisms only to ensure that immigrants crossing the Southern border would reach the Northern border without further ado. But the mere fact of having to contemplate such a solution already reveals a lot from a country where there is no control of the territory, whether it’s for Mexicans or foreigners.
Tackling violence linked to human trafficking in Mexico is an unavoidable factor within an inclusive strategy to recover security and governance throughout the country. Besides, Mexican State cannot continue to foster a hypocritical rhetoric sustained in the legitimate complaints of harassment suffered by Mexican immigrants in the U.S. while at the same time doing nothing with its own responsibilities.


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