Target: Local government of Chiapas
Goal: End the exploitation of migrant children crossing into Mexico and punish those responsible
In the southern part of Mexico, thousands of immigrants from Central America face the perils of crossing into Mexico through the border state of Chiapas each year. After a dangerous journey, immigrants hoping to reach Mexico City or even the United States are faced with criminal gangs that force them into slave labor and prostitution or hold them for ransom. Some immigrants are simply killed.
The threat of exploitation is especially prevalent among young children and teenagers who make the passage into Mexico alone. These children are often kidnapped and forced into prostitution or made to sell merchandise in town squares. Children from neighboring countries such as Guatemala or Honduras can be seen with trays strapped to their stomachs, peddling trinkets in markets throughout Chiapas. Not only do authorities turn a blind eye to this forced labor, they actually charge the children to sell wares in public spaces.
Ramon Verdugo, an activist stationed in Chiapas, has attempted to petition the local government of Chiapas, demanding that they put an end to child exploitation. Recently, he staged a three-day hunger strike and organized marches through the southern cities in Chiapas. His efforts resulted in a phone call from the attorney general’s office, stating that, “authorities were willing to meet and discuss the problems.” However, the meeting has yet to happen, and Verdugo is doubtful that it ever will. “We have been making legal complaints for nearly two years,” he stated, “and nothing has ever come of it.”
According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, child advocacy groups estimate that as many as 20,000 migrant children may be “caught up in rings of forced labor or sexual exploitation in Chiapas,” and the number is growing. As this is the only passage for many hoping to make it to the United States, the number of migrant children crossing into Chiapas is unlikely to decrease.
Ask the government of Chiapas to protect migrant children crossing through southern Mexico. Demand that they stop the rampant exploitation of helpless children and teenagers and that they punish the authorities that have turned a blind eye to the abuse.
Dear Chiapas Government Leaders,
The fate of many immigrants traveling into Mexico through Chiapas has been described as a death sentence. This is especially true for unprotected children making the journey into Chiapas where they are met with gangs who proceed to kidnap them and force them into prostitution or slave labor. International child advocacy groups have determined that as many as 20,000 migrant children in Chiapas alone have been subjected to such abuses.
Rather than extend help to these children, the government and authorities of Chiapas have turned a blind eye. They have failed to put an end to child exploitation, and by refusing to acknowledge the abuses, have let gang leaders and kidnappers continue to exploit helpless youths.
These atrocities must not continue. The government of Chiapas must stop the exploitation of children migrating into Mexico from Central America. I urge you to enforce laws against kidnapping, forced labor and prostitution and punish those responsible for committing these crimes. Furthermore, I demand that you punish the authorities who have failed to stop these crimes in the past and ask that you help to end child exploitation in southern Mexico.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Ekem via Wikimedia Commons