Displaying items by tag: Mexico
Yessenia Mollinedo and Sheila Johana Garcia were shot on 9 May, raising the death toll of journalists this year to eleven. Mexico is the most dangerous country for media workers outside of war zones. Authorities are searching for a motive for their murder. Media rights group Reporters Without Borders are investigating the incident. Mexico’s federal government has been criticised for neither preventing the killing of journalists nor investigating them sufficiently. Although organised crime is often blamed for attacks on media workers, small-town officials and politicians with political or criminal motivations are often suspects in these crimes. Crimes against freedom of expression occur daily. It is not clear if Mollinedo or Garcia were enrolled in a federal protection programme for journalists and human rights defenders. Several of the journalists killed this year had made contact with the programme at some point. Although President Obrador promises a ‘zero impunity’ policy when investigating such slayings, he continues his regular verbal attacks against journalists critical of his administration.
Christians are the majority of Mexico’s total population, but they are targeted by unlawful gangs for speaking out against criminal operations and violence. Cartels violently try to silence them. In rural indigenous communities, anyone turning away from traditional religious beliefs faces rejection and punishment in the form of fines, imprisonment, and forced displacement. Non-discrimination laws mean that any links between Christian faith and politics are placed under very strict legal scrutiny. In areas controlled by criminals or drug cartels, young Christian men are exposed to forced enrolment. Those who do not accept it face threats, potential abduction, and even death. Families are bribed and intimidated to force their children to obey the gangs. Church leaders are victims of blackmail because they have access to church funds. Mexico also has the highest rate of human trafficking in the world. Women are easy targets.
A fourth journalist has been killed in Mexico in a month, drawing condemnation from freedom-of-the-press groups. Roberto Toledo, a 55-year-old lawyer, was gunned down by three men in a parking area by the law office where he worked. Three other journalists have been killed so far this year. ‘His death underscores the incredibly dangerous situation that journalists across Mexico are having to contend with as they try to go about their daily work.’ said Natalie Southwick, programme coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean for the Committee to Protect Journalists. The group condemned the attack on social media and urged Mexican authorities to investigate. Mexico has offered bodyguards and bulletproof vests to vulnerable journalists in the past, but it hasn’t been enough. Tourist drug demand is bringing cartel violence to Mexico’s most popular resorts.
Flights carrying Haitian migrants from the US back to their homeland continue daily. The ongoing mass expulsion comes in response to a growing humanitarian crisis at the US/Mexico border. Over 12,000 migrants, mainly from Haiti, camped under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, after wading across the Rio Grande from Mexico. Activity at the border has increased significantly in recent years. Border agents stopped nearly 200,000 people last month, a significant increase from the 50,684 arrests in 2019. UN officials say almost a million people from El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti and Honduras have fled to Mexico. Mexico may top 100,000 new asylum claims this year, breaking a new record. Recently a federal judge decided officials could not use Title 42 law to deport migrant families from the US to Mexico. Lawyers serving the Biden administration immediately appealed the ruling. Mission Cry is sending 25,000 Spanish Bibles to migrants all over Mexico and hope to reach 2 million people.
The Catholic-run welcome centre, the last stop for migrants before crossing the border into the USA, offers meals, clothing, medical and legal assistance. It has become a waiting room. The group running the welcome centre attributes lengthened stays (300+ days) to the pandemic and Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy. Many who get into America are ejected by Border Patrol after a few days - creating a revolving population, returning to the welcome centre on a weekly or daily basis. Women give birth, children miss two years of education, girls can’t have a quinceañera (celebration of a girl's 15th birthday). US authorities found 19,000 children traveling alone across the Mexican border in March. It is a major test for Joe Biden as he reverses many of his predecessor's hard-line immigration tactics.
The US homeland security secretary said they are expelling most single adults and families but not unaccompanied children. An average of 565 lone children are crossing the border daily. The highest number of families come from Honduras, the most unstable Central American country. Many lone children come from Guatemala, where youth population and unemployment are high and smuggling networks are developed. The transition from Donald Trump to Joe Biden has persuaded would-be migrants that a limited window now exists for US entry. In the Trump years human traffickers were thwarted, but they are now eager for more. Also, two major hurricanes have inflicted severe human and economic damage in Central America. Taking to the road to find a better life is dangerous, especially for children. Most flee from violence, corruption, and poverty all around them. Doctors Without Borders said 75% of migrants with children were fleeing threats of violence, including forced recruitment by gangs.
On 6 October Louisiana’s governor warned, ‘It is time to prepare for Hurricane Delta as it intensifies in the Caribbean. It is common for people to experience hurricane fatigue during a busy season, but we need everyone to take this threat seriously.’ Delta is the 10th named storm in America this season. After tearing down trees and power lines across Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, Delta grew in size as it approached the northern Gulf Coast on 9 October. Life-threatening storm surges and hurricane-force winds are expected in the Louisiana coast, with as much as 12 inches of rain in places. State and local officials are shoring up levees, sandbagging and taking other protection measures in areas still recovering from Hurricane Laura, which roared ashore in August. Over 6,600 Laura evacuees remain in hotels around the state, mainly in New Orleans, because their homes are too heavily damaged to return. Pray for their peace of mind.
Two Protestant families who were forced to sign an illegal agreement to renounce their right to hold religious services in order to have their access to essential services reinstated have now been told they risk being cut off again if they cannot pay the remainder of a fine that was levied as part of the agreement. In 2019 they refused to sign a similar document renouncing their faith when other Protestants in the village signed it. Their refusal to do so caused their access to water, drainage, government benefit programmes and the community mill cut off for over a year until they signed it. They were also threatened with forced displacement by community leaders unless they contributed to local Roman Catholic festivals and participated in other activities which conflicted with their religious beliefs.
Social media report that doctors have been assaulted by relatives of coronavirus patients, and health workers attacked verbally and physically. Daniel, wearing his hospital cleaner uniform, was brutally attacked on a bus by people shouting ‘dirty’ at him. He thought it was never going to end. Nurse Melody came face to face with residents blocking her path when she tried to return home. She said ‘If I entered the village I wouldn't be allowed to leave again. It would be better if I didn't enter because I came from a source of infection.’ She is temporarily renting a flat elsewhere. Experts believe that the attacks reflect the public's fear of what the medical workers represent in a country with tens of thousands of deaths. Unlike other traumatic events, cannot be avoided, and generates more fear motivated by ignorance and fright. The national guard is now in hospitals, and some medical workers receive government transport for long commutes home.
Since 2015 tunnels have run under the border from Mexico to America. Donald Trump has made building a border wall one of his key priorities to tackle illegal immigration and drug trafficking. On 30 January, US officials said that they had discovered the longest smuggling tunnel ever. Stretching for 1,313m, it had a lift, rail track, drainage, air ventilation systems and high voltage electrical cables. The passageway connected an industrial site in Tijuana to the San Diego area in California. Mexico's Sinaloa cartel, one of the largest drug-trafficking organisations in the world, operates in the area. Its founder and long-time leader, Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, is serving life in prison in Alcatraz. Mexico's murder rate rises annually - 2019 was the bloodiest year on record, with 34,582 killings. Much of the violence is linked to criminal gangs who engage in drug trafficking, kidnappings and extortion of local businesses and farmers. See