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World Forum on Migration
Tragedy in Tamaulipas spotlights unjust migratory policies

By Sister Doris Regan, OP (Peace)
San Pedro Sula, Honduras

Migrants from whatever country in the world
are a most unappreciated and mistreated sector
of the population

There was small attention paid in the United States regarding the massacre of 72 migrants in Tamaulipas, Mexico on Aug. 21. It was a blip on the CNN screen. But for the Latin American world, it was neither an isolated event nor one that could not be foreseen. On this side of the border, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala see thousands of young men and women leave each day with dreams of new life beyond the poverty and lack of employment they experience in Central America. The route they choose is filled with adventure and danger and there are “gangs” on both sides of the border who resort to extortion, rape, torture and murder.

The Human Rights Commission of the diocese of Saltillo, Mexico (Bishop Raul Vera, OP) issued a statement condemning the “systematic violation of the Human Rights of migrants.” The document also states that the massacre is a clear proof of the unjust migratory policies of Mexico.

Of the 72 victims, 21 were Honduran. Migrants from whatever country in the world are a most unappreciated and mistreated sector of the population. They are the very ones who send income back to their country of origin (generally, this income is the country’s largest resource). They send income to the very country that has expelled them by denying them work, decent salaries or simply by not offering them security in the face of massive delinquency. They are the forgotten ones for not having papers and for being poor. A priest said at one of the recent burials: “The Hondurans massacred in Mexico are fallen soldiers, not just of a government but of an entire country in the war against hunger, poverty and indifference.”

Comprehensive immigration reform in the United States is only one part of the picture, albeit a most important one. The United States spends most of its resources for border control against illegal immigrants seeking to come to the United States to find work. Mexico needs to develop its own law enforcement and judicial reform. Ex- military are most numerous in the “gangs” at the border, and corruption is rampant. The ability to deal with organized crime differs from country to country and in most cases it is done poorly, if at all. Without a concerted effort on the part of the countries from which the migrants come, the countries of their destination and the countries en route, the migratory route continues to be “The Route of Death” for thousands.

The Fourth World Social Forum on Migration will be held Oct. 8–12 in Quito, Ecuador, under the auspices of the United Nations. Hopefully there will be some concrete response taken by the diplomatic representatives and consular functionaries of the countries affected.

For more information about the Fourth World Social Forum, click here.