Protect Humanitarian Aid Workers and Migrants in Mexico

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Target: Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, Minster of Interior, Mexico

Goal: Secure government protection for threatened humanitarian workers in Mexico.

Father Pedro Pantoja Arreola has spent years running Belén, Posada Del Migrante (Bethlehem, the Migrant’s Shelter) in Mexico. The shelter has faced threats and hostility ever since its founding, but a recent string of thefts and threatening messages have left Father Pantoja, other shelter workers, and the migrants they work to protect vulnerable to further violence. Sign the petition and demand that the Mexican government do all in its power to protect those associated with Belén.

The shelter, located in Saltillo, Mexico, is a haven for Central American migrants either passing through Mexico on their way to the United States or planning to settle in Mexico. The migrants are often fleeing natural disasters, oppressive governments, and other violent circumstances. In Mexico, however, most only find more hardship and heartache. There is a strong prejudice against migrants in Mexico, since many people feel they have entered the country illegally, even though a 2011 bill “decriminalize[d] the entry into Mexican territory of migrants without legal documents.” In addition, organized crime cartels take advantage of the migrants’ vulnerability, kidnapping, beating, raping, and killing them. “[K]idnapping of migrants has become a big business for [organized crime syndicate] Los Zetas, which security analysts say has taken over the human trafficking networks while corrupting police departments, immigration officials and municipal governments along the routes plied most commonly by migrants,” reports the Catholic News Service.

Most recently, the shelter has received threatening phone calls—”You will all be screwed,” one caller told Father Pantoja—and has been robbed on two separate occasions of confidential papers related to the operation of the shelter. The crimes are clearly not random: despite the presence of valuables at both crime scenes, Amnesty International reports, nothing aside from the documents was taken.

As a result of an order from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2010, the Mexican government has nominally protected the shelter and its workers by stationing a police car outside, but in light of the recent thefts, shelter workers are calling the level of security into question. The political unpopularity of the shelter’s work, along with widespread corruption in government and law enforcement offices, threatens the level of protection the shelter receives.

Stand with Father Pantoja and the other workers providing invaluable humanitarian services to migrants. Sign the petition demanding that the government provide the highest caliber of protection to the workers and migrants of Belén and insist that the government launch a full investigation into the threats leveled against Belén and its workers.

PETITION LETTER

Dear Minister Osorio Chong,

Ever since it was founded over a decade ago, Belén, Posada Del Migrante has been the target of hostility and violence. However, a recent escalation in both verbal threats and physical actions has the shelter’s staff feeling worried and vulnerable. Take a stand for the defense and protection of all humans. Provide Belén and its staff with the best security the government can offer and launch a full investigation into the threats and thefts recently directed at the shelter.

Although Belén, Posada Del Migrante is a humanitarian organization that simply aims to help other people, it has been the target of many hostile attacks. Many ordinary people are upset that the shelter aids “illegal” migrants, while organized crime cartels such as Los Zetas are angry that the shelter is affecting their human trafficking. The problems at Belén represent a cross-section of many problems that plague Mexico on a larger scale, including the uncontrolled spread of organized crime and the corruption of many law enforcement and government officials. Tackling all these problems at once is impossible; however, it is possible to chip away at them by aiding in the mission of Belén, Posada Del Migrante.

Please do not allow the important humanitarian work of the shelter to be obstructed by criminal bullies and political hostility. Stand with Belén and provide it and its workers with all the protection and government support they need.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Rosalind Reinhard via Global Images

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