Trafficking Human Life to the United States

One of the trailers transporting immigrants analyzed through a scanner. Photo by EFE.

Detained immigrants wait to declare themselves in Tuxtla Gutierrez. Photo by A. Estrada (AP).

Trafficking Human Life to the United States
Authorities in Southern Mexico Discover 513 Migrants Hidden in Two Trailers from Guatemala
El País: Tráfico de carne humana hacia Estados Unidos
Pablo Ordaz reporting from Mexico May 18, 2011

No business is more lucrative than the trafficking of desperate people. The police in the State of Chiapas on the southern border of Mexico proved that anew on Tuesday when they held up two trailers coming from Guatemala. Using an X-ray scanner, the agents discovered that one trailer was carrying 273 undocumented immigrants, all men; there were 240 in the other, including 32 women and 4 children. According to the migrants, the large majority of them Guatemalans, this insecure passage to the United States – more than 1700 km (1050 miles) through Mexico – had cost each one $7000 USD, about 5000 euros, which they had to pay in advance to an organization of poulterers.

The radiography was a terrible sight. Men, women, and children were packed together, an average of six per cubic meter, some standing, others sitting, in a 40°C (104°F) box, with more than 20 hours of driving ahead of them if they hadn’t been detained in Tapachula a Reinosa and no more guarantee than the improbable good will of the traffickers. Of the 273 migrants in the first truck, there were 199 Guatemalans, 28 Salvadorans, 26 Ecuadorians, 12 Indians, 6 Nepalese, 1 Honduran, and 1 Dominican. Of the 240 hidden in the other, 211 were Guatemalan, 19 Salvadoran, 6 Ecuadorian, 3 Chinese, and 1 Japanese. Were these 513 madmen, surprising protagonists in an isolated case? Nothing could be further from the truth.

According to official data, every year some 300,000 migrants attempt the difficult journey from Guatemala or Belize into Mexico (whose southern border is some 1000 km/620 mi long), going across very dangerous Mexican territory (more than 11,000 migrants were stopped from April to September 2010) and finally trying to slip into the United States from somewhere on the 3000 km border, exposing themselves to the hunger of coyotes, the sun of the desert, the venom of serpents, the agents of the border patrol…

…as if that weren’t enough, the authorities in Mexico augment their suffering rather than decreasing it, according to Mexican priest Alejandro Solalinde, who is responsible for one of the shelters that try to help migrants on their route to the United States. “The immigration authorities,” he affirms, “are totally infiltrated by drug traffickers. There are agents who work for the National Migration Institute (INM) and the Zetas drug cartel at the same time, and they are dedicated to seizing, raping, and killing migrants. I’ve given names to the relevant official in Chiapas, Mercedes Gómez Mont, the sister of the previous federal secretary of the provincial government, but she hasn’t done anything about it.”

Father Solalinde is not the only one making denouncements. Other organizations like Amnesty International also describe the National Migration Institute as a department “infiltrated by organized crime, opaque and bureaucratic, which favors illegality and corruption and tolerates abuses committed by public servants and delinquents.” As of now, more than 200 immigration agents have been dismissed for corruption, and another 350 are under investigation.

Something else which has caught the attention of Father Solalinde is that this May, 795 undocumented immigrants have already been detained in the southern states of Mexico. This number, double or triple the usual, corresponds, according to the fighter for immigrants’ rights, “to U.S. pressure on Mexico to police its border with Guatemala.”

In this regard, various State Department documents posted on Wikileaks and published in this newspaper at the end of 2010 reflected U.S. worry about the “porous” border between Mexico and Guatemala, a true paradise for arms, narcotics, and human traffickers. The cables, redacted at the end of 2009 and written about the terrain for American diplomats, called attention to the lack of vigilance Mexico dedicates to its southern border: “only 125 Mexican immigration agents control the 577 miles [928 km] of the Guatemalan border.”

Only one police officer for every 8 kilometers [5 miles] of the frontier. Only 125 agents trying to keep human traffickers from shipping mobile coffins to the United States.

Explore posts in the same categories: Latinoamérica, Politics, Translations

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