Jesuit Demands Mexico Stop Abuses of Migrants

By Jerry Kammer and Jerry Kammer on August 26, 2010

A Jesuit priest who has long denounced the Mexican government for failing to protect Central American migrants from abuses on their way northward has rejected official statements of outrage at the massacre of 72 migrants in the northern border state of Tamaulipas.

"Don't come to me and tell me that this causes you great pain because that isn't true," said Jesuit priest Pedro Pantoja, according to the online edition of the Mexican magazine Proceso. Pantoja directs a migrants' center in the city of Saltillo.

In March Pantoja attended a Washington conference of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that discussed the kidnapping of migrants by Mexican criminal gangs who hold them for ransom. He said then that the border "is totally controlled by criminal gangs."

Initial reports of the 72 murdered immigrants — 58 men and 14 women believed to be from El Salvador, Honduras, Ecuador, and Brazil — indicate that they were killed after they refused to work for the gangs, who often combine migrant smuggling with the smuggling of drugs.

Pantoja, who has long pushed the Mexican government to take action against the abuses, is quoted in Proceso as saying: "We don't want an excuse and we don't want a word of consolation. What we want is a reaction from the state. When is this human tragedy going to be stopped?"