Franciscan Priest Tomás González Castillo and immigrant rights activist Rubén Figueroa
Immigrant rights activist leaves La 72 Refuge Immigrant Shelter in Tenosique, Tabasco, Mexico for lack of protection from President Nieto's government after life threats continue and director of the shelter Franciscan priest exposes corruption in the National Institute of Migration, Mexico's department of immigration services.
By H. Nelson Goodson
June 14, 2013
Tenosique, Tabasco, Mexico - On Wednesday, Rubén Figueroa, from the Mesoamerican Migrant Movement (MMM) organization and aid to Franciscan Priest Tomás González Castillo, 39, operator of La 72 Immigrant Refuge Shelter in Tenosique announced that he will no longer be able to continue his work at the shelter due to continued life threats. Figueroa finally left Tenosique around noon on Wednesday for an "indefinite period." He did not confirm, if he will continue his human and immigrants rights work with MMM at a different location in Mexico.
Both Figueroa and Castillo have been vocal by exposing the multi-million dollar operation to extort or kidnap immigrants for ransom by criminal organizations in the region, including the states of Chiapas, Tabasco, Tamaulipas and Veracruz.
Late last Monday's released of three Zeta members, Melvin Alexis González Alvarado, 33, and Juan Carlos Serrato Núnez, 24, from Honduras and Eugenio Caridad Bolianas Azucena, 44, from El Salvador who are allegedly connected to numerous extortions and kidnappings along the freight train route (La Bestia) between Tabasco to Veracruz has forced Figueroa to leave the area in order to stay alive. Another Zeta suspect, Roger Omar Garcia Chavez, 29, from Honduras who threatened to kill Figueroa is being held on a minor charge.
Figueroa stated that the lack of security by the federal (President Nieto's government) and state governments, including the National Institute of Migration (NIM) in Tenosique's La Bestia train route that thousands of undocumented immigrants from South and Central America used on their way to the U.S. border has become a lawless territory controlled by organized criminal organizations affiliated with los Zetas. Franciscan Priest Castillo recently granted a radio interview with RadioFormula in which he talked about the three Zeta suspects who were released and the fourth suspect that threatened Figueroa. Castillo also exposed that the immigration custom workers from NIM have also extorted money from immigrants and that federal authorities, including senators from the region have failed to act by cleaning up the corruption within the NIM or to actually take his allegations of corruption seriously. Castillo and Figueroa have collected testimonials from hundreds of undocumented immigrants and victims of such violent crimes perpetrated against them by criminal organizations. Castillo has collected at least 200 testimonials from undocumented immigrants exposing that immigration customs from the NIM have collected extortion money and bribes from them while travelling through the four state checkpoints.
Both Castillo and Figueroa were previously threaten with death in March by another group. In March, three other suspects, José Alberto González and Jorge Alberto Alvarado, both from Honduras and José Osmaro Cruz Gálvez from El Salvador were taken into custody for making threats to behead both Figueroa and Castillo, including making death threats to staff members and volunteers at the shelter, including the extortion of undocumented immigrants and being members of a criminal organization that charge quotas to immigrants between $100 to $300 dollars to board a freight train known as La Bestia (Beast) in the Tenosique, Tabasco to Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz train route.
Then in April, the three suspects were released despite complaints filed by Figueroa and Castillo. The suspects later filed a state defamation complaint against Figueroa and Castillo for accusing them of criminal activities.
Every year, an estimated 140,000 undocumented immigrants make their way from Central and South America through Mexico on their way to the U.S. border. In the last 6 years, at least 70,000 immigrants have disappeared or reported missing in Mexico and only 80 have been located alive, according to Figueroa.