Mexican Press Points to Abuses of Central Americans

By Jerry Kammer and Jerry Kammer on July 19, 2010

Like Mexican government officials, Mexican journalists do not hesitate to express anger and demand corrective action when they believe their countrymen have been abused by the Border Patrol. But for years they have paid scant attention to the abuses suffered on a much greater scale by the Central Americans who pass through their country on their way to the U.S. border.

Recently, the scandal has begun to receive serious journalistic attention. A story in yesterday's Reforma, a prominent newspaper published in Mexico City, provides one example.

"Murders, robberies, kidnappings, sexual assaults, extortions, abuses by elements of the police and zero access to the justice system have been documented by Amnesty International," the paper reported. It added that Amnesty International "has warned that on Mexico's (southern) border, Central American immigrants find themselves in a real human rights crisis."

The story went on to provide some context, citing official reports that more than 100,000 Central Americans -- mostly Guatemalans, Salvadorans, and Hondurans -- enter Mexico every year on their way to the U.S. It cited a commission from Mexico's National Commission on Human Rights that 10,000 Central American migrants were kidnapped in a sixth-month period. Such victims are ordinarily held until relatives wire ransom money.

The story noted reports that Mexican authorities are involved in such activities, working with criminals to exploit the migrants. It accuses the Mexican government of "a double standard, complaining to the U.S. government on behalf of Mexicans," while Central Americans “who enter in an undocumented manner are victims. . ."

Reforma also quoted a Mexican government official who said that during the administration of President Felipe Calderone (which began at the end of 2006) federal authorities have fired 400 immigration officials who were "tied to acts of corruption." Of that number, according to the story, 30 received prison sentences.