Who’s Responsible for the Massacre of Migrants?

Placing the massacre at the feet of U.S. Immigration Control and Trade Policies

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.

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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.

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