Photo courtesy of Rubén Figueroa
Multiple human rights groups and undocumented immigrant rights activists claim that Mexican federal and state authorities during an April raid forcibly detained and abused nearly 300 immigrants.
By H. Nelson Goodson
May 11, 2014
Villahermosa, Tabasco, Mexico - On Friday, multiple human rights groups and immigrant rights activists during a press conference alleged that on April 30, nearly 300 undocumented immigrants from Central America were detained and abused by Mexican federal and state authorities. The immigrants were detained in buses for 20 hours without any privileges to use a bathroom. Days later, less than 30 were immediately deported without any immigration deportation due process.
The country of El Salvador has asked the Mexican government to explain the allegations of the brutal abuse perpetuated towards their nationals. Mexico has not responded.
Some of those deported have returned to Mexico and eight of them along with the immigrant rights groups have filed a complaint with the Mexican federal Attorney General's Office (PGR). They are requesting an federal investigation into allegations that undocumented immigrants were physically abused and some were deported without due process as requird by Mexican immigration laws.
The major immigration raid incident occurred in Chacamax de Emiliano Zapata, Tabasco and was conducted by the Mexican federal police, Tabasco's state security police, military forces and immigration agents from the National Institute of Migration (Mexico's immigration enforcement agency). The press conference was held by Alan Mayo Flota, an attorney with the Propuesta Civica organization; Judith Arteaga, from Amnesty International; Franciscan priest Tomas González Castillo, director of the 72 Immigrant Refuge Shelter in Tenosique and Rubén Figueroa, from the Movimiento Migrante Mesoamericano. Flota said, that Castillo and Figueroa were also threatened and received minor injuries during a raid. Figueroa reported on May 6, that he was struck in the head by a federal police officer and Castillo was struck and pushed from a bus causing a slight injury in his hand. The two were detained and placed inside a bus with other immigrants.
But, both Castillo and Figueroa aren't expected to file a complaint, since they don't believe the PGR or the Mexican Federal Commission on Human Rights will do anything due to a lack of government accountability under President Enrique Peña Nieto. Corruption is rampant among the federal police, state police and Mexican immigration agents, according to Castillo and Figueroa. The corrupt officials when detaining undocumented immigrants demand about $1,000 pesos ($77 U.S.) from undocumented immigrants to led them continue through Tabasco on their journey to the U.S. border.
The PGR or the Mexican Federal Commission on Human Rights have not confirmed, if in fact a federal investigation will be launched to determine the April immigration raid violated any laws. Neither the federal Senate or the Chamber of Representatives have initiated an investigation into the recent allegations made by immigrant rights groups of corruption among agents from Mexico's immigration enforcement agency along the tri-state region.
More than 70,000 of undocumented immigrants travel through Mexico every year. Thousands of immigrants are targeted for extortion and become victims of kidnappings, murder or forced prostitution by criminal organizations and gangs. Those riding la Bestia (Beast) freight train are forced to pay a quota of $300 U.S. to travel through Chiapas, Tabasco and Veracruz. Many victims have been thrown off the moving train or killed for not paying the quota.
Last month, more than several thousand immigrants and supporters walked from Chiapas, Tabasco, Veracruz and to Mexico City during an immigrant Viacrucis demanding free migration through Southern Mexico. They planned to ride la Bestia to Veracruz, but the companies that operate the freight train wouldn't allow them too get on board of the train. The immigrants then decided to walk. The Viacrucis began with 50 immigrants in Naranjo, Guatemala.
The state of Veracruz had filed a complaint with the PGR alleging that the companies that operate la Bestia should be held accountable for the crimes against immigrants while they ride the train. Immigrant rights activists on the contrary accused the Veracruz governor and state security police of doing nothing to secure la Bestia route to prevent crimes against immigrants. Most of the crimes reported against immigrants are ignored by state officials and no criminal investigations are initiated to prosecute suspects.