[Criminal drug cartels that prey on migrants–people who are vulnerable and criminalized–have attacked again. The failures of the Mexican state to provide any basic services or protections for the poor, and the gauntlet of the US’ militarized border and War on Drugs which migrants face in their struggle for life and work, are the setting for this massacre. This horrific act highlights the need for a revolutionary movement to champion the migrants and all oppressed, against the Mexican capitalist state, the predatory cartels, and the militarized xenophobia of US imperialism. See the two news articles, followed by the statement from the National Network on Immigrant and Refugee Rights, below.-ed.]
Wednesday 25th August, 2010
Police in Mexico have found a migrant link in an incident in which 72 people were found murdered at a ranch in Tamaulipas state.
Government security agents have said the 58 men and 14 women who were murdered had come from South and Central America in an effort to reach the United States.
Their bodies were found on Tuesday, after a shoot-out between suspected drug traffickers and security forces.
A surviving member of the group told police they had all been kidnapped by an armed gang that had insisted they become drug mules.
Authorities only became involved when the surviving man managed to escape and alerted marines at a nearby checkpoint.
When they arrived at the ranch, the gang opened fire before escaping.
Tamaulipas state has been the scene of fierce fighting between the Zetas and Gulf cartels.
Migrants from South American countries, including Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras and Brazil are in great danger when they try to pass through Mexico to the US.
Common graves have been found in increasing numbers of states in Mexico.
La Opinión, News Report
Aug 27, 2010
MEXICO CITY — Immigrant organizations, mothers of the disappeared and coordinators of shelters for deportees blame the Mexican government for the massacre of 72 Central and South Americans in Tamaulipas.
Xicotencalt Carrasco, director of the Belen Posada del Migrante shelter in Saltillo, Coahuila told La Opinión the Mexican government was guilty due to inaction, corruption and lack of respect.
Carrasco said that more than two years ago his shelter and other groups had presented a report on the deaths of migrants in Mexico, but the government was focused on debating the numbers.
Amnesty International reported in April that Mexican authorities had failed to implement effective measures to prevent the abuse and kidnapping of migrants by criminal organizations.
“Often they operate in complicity or with the consent of public officials,” said the organization.
In October 2008 and February 2009, two caravans of Central American women travelled through Mexico in search of their disappeared sons, but none of the authorities agreed to help them, according to pastor Luis Angel Nieto of the organization “Nuestros Lazos de Sangre.”
The Attorney General for the Republic (PGR) believes those killed were immigrants who failed to cooperate with Los Zetas.
In a separate article, La Opinión reports that one of the investigators looking into the massacre disappeared and was later found dead, presumably killed by Los Zetas.
Placing the Massacre of Migrants at the Feet of U.S. Immigration Control and Trade Policies
Statement from the National Network on Immigrant and Refugee Rights
Migrant workers continue paying a heavy price as a result of the volatile mixture of the U.S. militarization of immigration control and border communities, the criminalization of migration, the expansion of NAFTA or “free” trade under the “Merida Initiative,” a war on drugs and national security.
On Tuesday, August 24, 2010, devastating news reports began trickling out about a horrific massacre of some 72 international migrants that took place in Mexico. Armed members of a drug cartel had kidnapped these Central and South America migrants. The cartel gunmen were trying to extort ransom money from them to let them continue on their dangerous journey to the U.S. with the hope of reuniting with their families and seek work to survive.
The drug traffickers had tied the migrants’ hands behind their backs and then executed them by shooting them in the back. One migrant who survived the execution, although gravely wounded, dragged himself miles when he stumbled upon a military checkpoint on a highway and alerted them. Some 200 soldiers were mobilized and went to the farmhouse where a heavy gun battle ensued, leaving one soldier and three drug cartel gunmen dead. Then the soldiers made the grisly discovery of the migrants’ bodies, 58 men and 14 women—migrants from Honduras, El Salvador, Ecuador, and Brazil—who been slaughtered inside a farmhouse close to San Fernando, a small farming community in the Gulf coast state of Tamaulipas and about a 100 miles south of Brownsville, Texas.
Epidemic of Abuse and Exploitation of Migrants
The Mexican government’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) reports that more than 10,000 migrant kidnappings have been reported in the first six months of 2010 in Mexico. Yet, the CNDH and the Mexican government have not worked to effectively protect migrants, expose the abuses and prosecute the traffickers and their collaborators in the police, military and other government entities.
Drug traffickers and smugglers, as well as police and military, often hold migrants hostage and force them to pay high ransoms before they are allowed to continue usually on the last leg of their journey to the U.S. The CNDH said that in the first half of 2009, when only some 9,000 migrant kidnapping cases had been reported, corrupt government officials and police, organized crime, traffickers and other criminals extorted as much as $25 million dollars from kidnapped migrants.
When migrants make it to the U.S.-Mexico border, they fare no better. The U.S. deliberately funnels migrants into the deserts and mountains of Arizona and parts of New Mexico and Texas. Here at the border they are subjected to another layer of abuse. They are thrown into the hands of smugglers and other traffickers who have no second thoughts about abandoning individuals, who are often injured or suffering severe exhaustion, in the wilds, where migrants face a certain death either by extremes of heat or cold.
As a result of criminalization and few if any options to regularize their status or migrate with rights, U.S. and international migration control policies make migrant workers easy targets for exploitation and criminal attacks and extortions, where they live and work or whether in they are in transit or in the U.S.
Although Mexico is a signatory to the “International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families,” the Mexican government’s de facto policies and treatment of migrants is a bloodied mark on the convention. The U.S. is not a signatory to the migrant workers’ human rights convention. U.S. immigration enforcement and services, bound up to the U.S. politics of national security, are rife with abuses and human rights violations.
Mexican and U.S. policies, collusion through inaction, and their own impunity have created a situation where thousands of migrants are being subjected to extremes of abuse. The massacre of migrants in Mexico shows that drug traffickers have “diversified” their wares to include humans. They act with impunity, either as a result of official corruption or collusion that turns a blind eye to the exploitation, and results in the unfortunate death of migrants “funneled” by U.S. policies through the deadly desert and mountainous areas of the border.
Migrants who survive the journey only slightly fare better. Once out of the clutches of traffickers and smugglers they face a gauntlet of unscrupulous police, elected officials and employers who prey upon them. Or they are further criminalized and are hunted down, filling the dungeons of prisons, euphemistically called “detention centers.”
What is to be done?
What is to be done? Certainly, we should call for the investigation and prosecution all the abusers and those in government who collaborated in this heinous crime. But even this will not be enough. To prevent further abuses will take historic efforts on our and the immigrant rights and justice movements’ part. It will mean organizing to make the U.S. and Mexican governments decriminalize migration and demilitarize immigration control and border communities. These demands also have to expose the root causes and push back on economic and trade policies that undermine communities and forcibly displace workers and divide families.
For now we ask everyone to take a minute to reflect on this horrendous massacre of innocents and to respect those migrants among us who have survived this odyssey – just to be with their families, to work and support their families and communities back home.
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
Red Nacional Pro Derechos Inmigrantes y Refugiados
310 8th Street Suite 303
Oakland, CA 94607
Tel (510) 465-1984