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Indigenous & Latina Women & Children's Human Rights News from the Americas 


 

 

Indigenous & Latina Women & Children's Human Rights News from the Americas 


 

 

Indigenous & Latina Women & Children's Human Rights News from the Americas 


 

 
Latin America
Women & Children at Risk
 
Title: The Girls Next Door
Publisher: (c) 2004 New York Times
Author: Peter Landesman
Publish Date: 2004-01-25
URL: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/25/magazine/25SEXTRAFFIC.html
(Photos accompany original article)

Related issues covered on LibertadLatina.org:

The crisis of Latina sexual slavery in Latin America

The crisis of Latina sexual slavery in the United States

The San Diego, California 'Child Rape Camps' Crisis

The Sexual Exploitation Crisis in Mexico

Sexual Exploitation in Indigenous Latin  America

Sexual Exploitation in Indigenous Mexico

Libertad Latina's 2003 Slavery Report

Sex trafficking affects hundreds of thousands of women across Latin America. We focus here upon the largest component of the Latin America to U.S. problem, the trafficking of girls and women from Mexico and Central America across the U.S. border, and their subsequent sexual exploitation through forced prostitution in the United States.


The Girls Next Door

The house at 1212 1/2 West Front Street in Plainfield, N.J., is a conventional midcentury home with slate-gray siding, white trim and Victorian lines. When I stood in front of it on a breezy day in October, I could hear the cries of children from the playground of an elementary school around the corner. American flags fluttered from porches and windows. The neighborhood is a leafy, middle-class Anytown. The house is set back off the street, near two convenience stores and a gift shop. On the door of Superior Supermarket was pasted a sign issued by the Plainfield police: ''Safe neighborhoods save lives.'' The store's manager, who refused to tell me his name, said he never noticed anything unusual about the house, and never heard anything. But David Miranda, the young man behind the counter of Westside Convenience, told me he saw girls from the house roughly once a week. ''They came in to buy candy and soda, then went back to the house,'' he said. The same girls rarely came twice, and they were all very young, Miranda said. They never asked for anything beyond what they were purchasing; they certainly never asked for help. Cars drove up to the house all day; nice cars, all kinds of cars. Dozens of men came and went. ''But no one here knew what was really going on,'' Miranda said. And no one ever asked.

On a tip, the Plainfield police raided the house in February 2002, expecting to find illegal aliens working an underground brothel. What the police found were four girls between the ages of 14 and 17. They were all Mexican nationals without documentation. But they weren't prostitutes; they were sex slaves. The distinction is important: these girls weren't working for profit or a paycheck. They were captives to the traffickers and keepers who controlled their every move. ''I consider myself hardened,'' Mark J. Kelly, now a special agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security), told me recently. ''I spent time in the Marine Corps. But seeing some of the stuff I saw, then heard about, from those girls was a difficult, eye-opening experience.''

The police found a squalid, land-based equivalent of a 19th-century slave ship, with rancid, doorless bathrooms; bare, putrid mattresses; and a stash of penicillin, ''morning after'' pills and misoprostol, an antiulcer medication that can induce abortion. The girls were pale, exhausted and malnourished.

It turned out that 1212 1/2 West Front Street was one of what law-enforcement officials say are dozens of active stash houses and apartments in the New York metropolitan area -- mirroring hundreds more in other major cities like Los Angeles, Atlanta and Chicago -- where under-age girls and young women from dozens of countries are trafficked and held captive. Most of them -- whether they started out in Eastern Europe or Latin America -- are taken to the United States through Mexico. Some of them have been baited by promises of legitimate jobs and a better life in America; many have been abducted; others have been bought from or abandoned by their impoverished families.

Because of the porousness of the U.S.-Mexico border and the criminal networks that traverse it, the towns and cities along that border have become the main staging area in an illicit and barbaric industry, whose ''products'' are women and girls. On both sides of the border, they are rented out for sex for as little as 15 minutes at a time, dozens of times a day. Sometimes they are sold outright to other traffickers and sex rings, victims and experts say. These sex slaves earn no money, there is nothing voluntary about what they do and if they try to escape they are often beaten and sometimes killed.

Last September, in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly, President Bush named sex trafficking as ''a special evil,'' a multibillion-dollar ''underground of brutality and lonely fear,'' a global scourge alongside the AIDS epidemic. Influenced by a coalition of religious organizations, the Bush administration has pushed international action on the global sex trade. The president declared at the U.N. that ''those who create these victims and profit from their suffering must be severely punished'' and that ''those who patronize this industry debase themselves and deepen the misery of others. And governments that tolerate this trade are tolerating a form of slavery.''

Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 -- the first U.S. law to recognize that people trafficked against their will are victims of a crime, not illegal aliens -- the U.S. government rates other countries' records on human trafficking and can apply economic sanctions on those that aren't making efforts to improve them. Another piece of legislation, the Protect Act, which Bush signed into law last year, makes it a crime for any person to enter the U.S., or for any citizen to travel abroad, for the purpose of sex tourism involving children. The sentences are severe: up to 30 years' imprisonment for each offense.

The thrust of the president's U.N. speech and the scope of the laws passed here to address the sex-trafficking epidemic might suggest that this is a global problem but not particularly an American one. In reality, little has been done to document sex trafficking in this country. In dozens of interviews I conducted with former sex slaves, madams, government and law-enforcement officials and anti-sex-trade activists for more than four months in Eastern Europe, Mexico and the United States, the details and breadth of this sordid trade in the U.S. came to light.

In fact, the United States has become a major importer of sex slaves. Last year, the C.I.A. estimated that between 18,000 and 20,000 people are trafficked annually into the United States. The government has not studied how many of these are victims of sex traffickers, but Kevin Bales, president of Free the Slaves, America's largest anti-slavery organization, says that the number is at least 10,000 a year. John Miller, the State Department's director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, conceded: ''That figure could be low. What we know is that the number is huge.'' Bales estimates that there are 30,000 to 50,000 sex slaves in captivity in the United States at any given time. Laura Lederer, a senior State Department adviser on trafficking, told me, ''We're not finding victims in the United States because we're not looking for them.''

ABDUCTION

In Eastern European capitals like Kiev and Moscow, dozens of sex-trafficking rings advertise nanny positions in the United States in local newspapers; others claim to be scouting for models and actresses. In Chisinau, the capital of the former Soviet republic of Moldova -- the poorest country in Europe and the one experts say is most heavily culled by traffickers for young women -- I saw a billboard with a fresh-faced, smiling young woman beckoning girls to waitress positions in Paris. But of course there are no waitress positions and no ''Paris.'' Some of these young women are actually tricked into paying their own travel expenses -- typically around $3,000 -- as a down payment on what they expect to be bright, prosperous futures, only to find themselves kept prisoner in Mexico before being moved to the United States and sold into sexual bondage there.
The Eastern European trafficking operations, from entrapment to transport, tend to be well-oiled monoethnic machines. One notorious Ukrainian ring, which has since been broken up, was run by Tetyana Komisaruk and Serge Mezheritsky. One of their last transactions, according to Daniel Saunders, an assistant U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, took place in late June 2000 at the Hard Rock Cafe in Tijuana. Around dinnertime, a buyer named Gordey Vinitsky walked in. He was followed shortly after by Komisaruk's husband, Valery, who led Vinitsky out to the parking lot and to a waiting van. Inside the van were six Ukrainian women in their late teens and early 20's. They had been promised jobs as models and baby sitters in the glamorous United States, and they probably had no idea why they were sitting in a van in a backwater like Tijuana in the early evening.

Vinitsky pointed into the van at two of the women and said he'd take them for $10,000 each. Valery drove the young women to a gated villa 20 minutes away in Rosarito, a Mexican honky-tonk tourist trap in Baja California. They were kept there until July 4, when they were delivered to San Diego by boat and distributed to their buyers, including Vinitsky, who claimed his two ''purchases.'' The Komisaruks, Mezheritsky and Vinitsky were caught in May 2001 and are serving long sentences in U.S. federal prison.

In October, I met Nicole, a young Russian woman who had been trafficked into Mexico by a different network. ''I wanted to get out of Moscow, and they told me the Mexican border was like a freeway,'' said Nicole, who is now 25. We were sitting at a cafe on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, and she was telling me the story of her narrow escape from sex slavery -- she was taken by immigration officers when her traffickers were trying to smuggle her over the border from Tijuana. She still seemed fearful of being discovered by the trafficking ring and didn't want even her initials to appear in print. (Nicole is a name she adopted after coming to the U.S.)

Two years ago, afraid for her life after her boyfriend was gunned down in Moscow in an organized-crime-related shootout, she found herself across a cafe table in Moscow from a man named Alex, who explained how he could save her by smuggling her into the U.S. Once she agreed, Nicole said, Alex told her that if she didn't show up at the airport, '''I'll find you and cut your head off.' Russians do not play around. In Moscow you can get a bullet in your head just for fun.''

Donna M. Hughes, a professor of women's studies at the University of Rhode Island and an expert on sex trafficking, says that prostitution barely existed 12 years ago in the Soviet Union. ''It was suppressed by political structures. All the women had jobs.'' But in the first years after the collapse of Soviet Communism, poverty in the former Soviet states soared. Young women -- many of them college-educated and married -- became easy believers in Hollywood-generated images of swaying palm trees in L.A. ''A few of them have an idea that prostitution might be involved,'' Hughes says. ''But their idea of prostitution is 'Pretty Woman,' which is one of the most popular films in Ukraine and Russia. They're thinking, This may not be so bad.''

The girls' first contacts are usually with what appear to be legitimate travel agencies. According to prosecutors, the Komisaruk/Mezheritsky ring in Ukraine worked with two such agencies in Kiev, Art Life International and Svit Tours. The helpful agents at Svit and Art Life explained to the girls that the best way to get into the U.S. was through Mexico, which they portrayed as a short walk or boat ride from the American dream. Oblivious and full of hope, the girls get on planes to Europe and then on to Mexico.

Every day, flights from Paris, London and Amsterdam arrive at Mexico City's international airport carrying groups of these girls, sometimes as many as seven at a time, according to two Mexico City immigration officers I spoke with (and who asked to remain anonymous). One of them told me that officials at the airport -- who cooperate with Mexico's federal preventive police (P.F.P.) -- work with the traffickers and ''direct airlines to park at certain gates. Officials go to the aircraft. They know the seat numbers. While passengers come off, they take the girls to an office, where officials will 'process' them.''

Magdalena Carral, Mexico's commissioner of the National Institute of Migration, the government agency that controls migration issues at all airports, seaports and land entries into Mexico, told me: ''Everything happens at the airport. We are giving a big fight to have better control of the airport. Corruption does not leave tracks, and sometimes we cannot track it. Six months ago we changed the three main officials at the airport. But it's a daily fight. These networks are very powerful and dangerous.''


But Mexico is not merely a way station en route to the U.S. for third-country traffickers, like the Eastern European rings. It is also a vast source of even younger and more cheaply acquired girls for sexual servitude in the United States. While European traffickers tend to dupe their victims into boarding one-way flights to Mexico to their own captivity, Mexican traffickers rely on the charm and brute force of ''Los Lenones,'' tightly organized associations of pimps, according to Roberto Caballero, an officer with the P.F.P. Although hundreds of ''popcorn traffickers'' -- individuals who take control of one or two girls -- work the margins, Caballero said, at least 15 major trafficking organizations and 120 associated factions tracked by the P.F.P. operate as wholesalers: collecting human merchandise and taking orders from safe houses and brothels in the major sex-trafficking hubs in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Chicago.

Like the Sicilian Mafia, Los Lenones are based on family hierarchies, Caballero explained. The father controls the organization and the money, while the sons and their male cousins hunt, kidnap and entrap victims. The boys leave school at 12 and are given one or two girls their age to rape and pimp out to begin their training, which emphasizes the arts of kidnapping and seduction. Throughout the rural and suburban towns from southern Mexico to the U.S. border, along what traffickers call the Via Lactea, or Milky Way, the agents of Los Lenones troll the bus stations and factories and school dances where under-age girls gather, work and socialize. They first ply the girls like prospective lovers, buying them meals and desserts, promising affection and then marriage. Then the men describe rumors they've heard about America, about the promise of jobs and schools. Sometimes the girls are easy prey. Most of them already dream of El Norte. But the theater often ends as soon as the agent has the girl alone, when he beats her, drugs her or simply forces her into a waiting car.

The majority of Los Lenones -- 80 percent of them, Caballero says -- are based in Tenancingo, a charmless suburb an hour's drive south of Mexico City. Before I left Mexico City for Tenancingo in October, I was warned by Mexican and U.S. officials that the traffickers there are protected by the local police, and that the town is designed to discourage outsiders, with mazelike streets and only two closely watched entrances. The last time the federal police went there to investigate the disappearance of a local girl, their vehicle was surrounded, and the officers were intimidated into leaving. I traveled in a bulletproof Suburban with well-armed federales and an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent.

On the way, we stopped at a gas station, where I met the parents of a girl from Tenancingo who was reportedly abducted in August 2000. The girl, Suri, is now 20. Her mother told me that there were witnesses who saw her being forced into a car on the way home from work at a local factory. No one called the police. Suri's mother recited the names of daughters of a number of her friends who have also been taken: ''Minerva, Sylvia, Carmen,'' she said in a monotone, as if the list went on and on.

Just two days earlier, her parents heard from Suri (they call her by her nickname) for the first time since she disappeared. ''She's in Queens, New York,'' the mother told me breathlessly. ''She said she was being kept in a house watched by Colombians. She said they take her by car every day to work in a brothel. I was crying on the phone, 'When are you coming back, when are you coming back?' '' The mother looked at me helplessly; the father stared blankly into the distance. Then the mother sobered. ''My daughter said: 'I'm too far away. I don't know when I'm coming back.''' Before she hung up, Suri told her mother: ''Don't cry. I'll escape soon. And don't talk to anyone.''

Sex-trafficking victims widely believe that if they talk, they or someone they love will be killed. And their fear is not unfounded, since the tentacles of the trafficking rings reach back into the girls' hometowns, and local law enforcement is often complicit in the sex trade.

One officer in the P.F.P.'s anti-trafficking division told me that 10 high-level officials in the state of Sonora share a $200,000 weekly payoff from traffickers, a gargantuan sum of money for Mexico. The officer told me with a frozen smile that he was powerless to do anything about it.

''Some officials are not only on the organization's payroll, they are key players in the organization,'' an official at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City told me. ''Corruption is the most important reason these networks are so successful.''

Nicolas Suarez, the P.F.P.'s coordinator of intelligence, sounded fatalistic about corruption when I spoke to him in Mexico City in September. ''We have that cancer, corruption,'' he told me with a shrug. ''But it exists in every country. In every house there is a devil.''

The U.S. Embassy official told me: ''Mexican officials see sex trafficking as a U.S. problem. If there wasn't such a large demand, then people -- trafficking victims and migrants alike -- wouldn't be going up there.''

When I asked Magdalena Carral, the Mexican commissioner of migration, about these accusations, she said that she didn't know anything about Los Lenones or sex trafficking in Tenancingo. But she conceded: ''There is an investigation against some officials accused of cooperating with these trafficking networks nationwide. Sonora is one of those places.'' She added, ''We are determined not to allow any kind of corruption in this administration, not the smallest kind.''

Gary Haugen, president of the International Justice Mission, an organization based in Arlington, Va., that fights sexual exploitation in South Asia and Southeast Asia, says: ''Sex trafficking isn't a poverty issue but a law-enforcement issue. You can only carry out this trade at significant levels with the cooperation of local law enforcement. In the developing world the police are not seen as a solution for anything. You don't run to the police; you run from the police.''

BREAKING THE GIRLS IN

Once the Mexican traffickers abduct or seduce the women and young girls, it's not other men who first indoctrinate them into sexual slavery but other women. The victims and officials I spoke to all emphasized this fact as crucial to the trafficking rings' success. ''Women are the principals,'' Caballero, the Mexican federal preventive police officer, told me. ''The victims are put under the influence of the mothers, who handle them and beat them. Then they give the girls to the men to beat and rape into submission.'' Traffickers understand that because women can more easily gain the trust of young girls, they can more easily crush them. ''Men are the customers and controllers, but within most trafficking organizations themselves, women are the operators,'' Haugen says. ''Women are the ones who exert violent force and psychological torture.''

This mirrors the tactics of the Eastern European rings. ''Mexican pimps have learned a lot from European traffickers,'' said Claudia, a former prostitute and madam in her late 40's, whom I met in Tepito, Mexico City's vast and lethal ghetto. ''The Europeans not only gather girls but put older women in the same houses,'' she told me. ''They get younger and older women emotionally attached. They're transported together, survive together.''

The traffickers' harvest is innocence. Before young women and girls are taken to the United States, their captors want to obliterate their sexual inexperience while preserving its appearance. For the Eastern European girls, this ''preparation'' generally happens in Ensenada, a seaside tourist town in Baja California, a region in Mexico settled by Russian immigrants, or Tijuana, where Nicole, the Russian woman I met in Los Angeles, was taken along with four other girls when she arrived in Mexico. The young women are typically kept in locked-down, gated villas in groups of 16 to 20. The girls are provided with all-American clothing -- Levi's and baseball caps. They learn to say, ''U.S. citizen.'' They are also sexually brutalized. Nicole told me that the day she arrived in Tijuana, three of her traveling companions were ''tried out'' locally. The education lasts for days and sometimes weeks.

For the Mexican girls abducted by Los Lenones, the process of breaking them in often begins on Calle Santo Tomas, a filthy narrow street in La Merced, a dangerous and raucous ghetto in Mexico City. Santo Tomas has been a place for low-end prostitution since before Spain's conquest of Mexico in the 16th century. But beginning in the early 90's, it became an important training ground for under-age girls and young women on their way into sexual bondage in the United States. When I first visited Santo Tomas, in late September, I found 150 young women walking a slow-motion parabola among 300 or 400 men. It was a balmy night, and the air was heavy with the smell of barbecue and gasoline. Two dead dogs were splayed over the curb just beyond where the girls struck casual poses in stilettos and spray-on-tight neon vinyl and satin or skimpy leopard-patterned outfits. Some of the girls looked as young as 12. Their faces betrayed no emotion. Many wore pendants of the grim reaper around their necks and made hissing sounds; this, I was told, was part of a ritual to ward off bad energy. The men, who were there to rent or just gaze, didn't speak. From the tables of a shabby cafe midblock, other men -- also Mexicans, but more neatly dressed -- sat scrutinizing the girls as at an auction. These were buyers and renters with an interest in the youngest and best looking. They nodded to the girls they wanted and then followed them past a guard in a Yankees baseball cap through a tin doorway.

Inside, the girls braced the men before a statue of St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes, and patted them down for weapons. Then the girls genuflected to the stone-faced saint and led the men to the back, grabbing a condom and roll of toilet paper on the way. They pointed to a block of ice in a tub in lieu of a urinal. Beyond a blue hallway the air went sour, like old onions; there were 30 stalls curtained off by blue fabric, every one in use. Fifteen minutes of straightforward intercourse with the girl's clothes left on cost 50 pesos, or about $4.50. For $4.50 more, the dress was lifted. For another $4.50, the bra would be taken off. Oral sex was $4.50; ''acrobatic positions'' were $1.80 each. Despite the dozens of people and the various exertions in this room, there were only the sounds of zippers and shoes. There was no human noise at all.

Most of the girls on Santo Tomas would have sex with 20 to 30 men a day; they would do this seven days a week usually for weeks but sometimes for months before they were ''ready'' for the United States. If they refused, they would be beaten and sometimes killed. They would be told that if they tried to escape, one of their family members, who usually had no idea where they were, would be beaten or killed. Working at the brutalizing pace of 20 men per day, a girl could earn her captors as much as $2,000 a week. In the U.S., that same girl could bring in perhaps $30,000 per week.

In Europe, girls and women trafficked for the sex trade gain in value the closer they get to their destinations. According to Iana Matei, who operates Reaching Out, a Romanian rescue organization, a Romanian or Moldovan girl can be sold to her first transporter -- who she may or may not know has taken her captive -- for as little as $60, then for $500 to the next. Eventually she can be sold for $2,500 to the organization that will ultimately control and rent her for sex for tens of thousands of dollars a week. (Though the Moldovan and Romanian organizations typically smuggle girls to Western Europe and not the United States, they are, Matei says, closely allied with Russian and Ukrainian networks that do.)

Jonathan M. Winer, deputy assistant secretary of state for international law enforcement in the Clinton administration, says, ''The girls are worth a penny or a ruble in their home village, and suddenly they're worth hundreds and thousands somewhere else.''

CROSSING THE BORDER

In November, I followed by helicopter the 12-foot-high sheet-metal fence that represents the U.S.-Mexico boundary from Imperial Beach, Calif., south of San Diego, 14 miles across the gritty warrens and havoc of Tijuana into the barren hills of Tecate. The fence drops off abruptly at Colonia Nido de las Aguilas, a dry riverbed that straddles the border. Four hundred square miles of bone-dry, barren hills stretch out on the U.S. side. I hovered over the end of the fence with Lester McDaniel, a special agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. On the U.S. side, ''J-e-s-u-s'' was spelled out in rocks 10 feet high across a steep hillside. A 15-foot white wooden cross rose from the peak. It is here that thousands of girls and young women -- most of them Mexican and many of them straight from Calle Santo Tomas -- are taken every year, mostly between January and August, the dry season. Coyotes -- or smugglers -- subcontracted exclusively by sex traffickers sometimes trudge the girls up to the cross and let them pray, then herd them into the hills northward.

A few miles east, we picked up a deeply grooved trail at the fence and followed it for miles into the hills until it plunged into a deep isolated ravine called Cottonwood Canyon. A Ukrainian sex-trafficking ring force-marches young women through here, McDaniel told me. In high heels and seductive clothing, the young women trek 12 miles to Highway 94, where panel trucks sit waiting. McDaniel listed the perils: rattlesnakes, dehydration and hypothermia. He failed to mention the traffickers' bullets should the women try to escape.

''If a girl tries to run, she's killed and becomes just one more woman in the desert,'' says Marisa B. Ugarte, director of the Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition, a San Diego organization that coordinates rescue efforts for trafficking victims on both sides of the border. ''But if she keeps going north, she reaches the Gates of Hell.''

One girl who was trafficked back and forth across that border repeatedly was Andrea. ''Andrea'' is just one name she was given by her traffickers and clients; she doesn't know her real name. She was born in the United States and sold or abandoned here -- at about 4 years old, she says -- by a woman who may have been her mother. (She is now in her early to mid-20's; she doesn't know for sure.) She says that she spent approximately the next 12 years as the captive of a sex-trafficking ring that operated on both sides of the Mexican border. Because of the threat of retribution from her former captors, who are believed to be still at large, an organization that rescues and counsels trafficking victims and former prostitutes arranged for me to meet Andrea in October at a secret location in the United States.

In a series of excruciating conversations, Andrea explained to me how the trafficking ring that kept her worked, moving young girls (and boys too) back and forth over the border, selling nights and weekends with them mostly to American men. She said that the ring imported -- both through abduction and outright purchase -- toddlers, children and teenagers into the U.S. from many countries.

''The border is very busy, lots of stuff moving back and forth,'' she said. ''Say you needed to get some kids. This guy would offer a woman a lot of money, and she'd take birth certificates from the U.S. -- from Puerto Rican children or darker-skinned children -- and then she would go into Mexico through Tijuana. Then she'd drive to Juarez'' -- across the Mexican border from El Paso, Tex. -- ''and then they'd go shopping. I was taken with them once. We went to this house that had a goat in the front yard and came out with a 4-year-old boy.'' She remembers the boy costing around $500 (she said that many poor parents were told that their children would go to adoption agencies and on to better lives in America). ''When we crossed the border at Juarez, all the border guards wanted to see was a birth certificate for the dark-skinned kids.''

Andrea continued: ''There would be a truck waiting for us at the Mexico border, and those trucks you don't want to ride in. Those trucks are closed. They had spots where there would be transfers, the rest stops and truck stops on the freeways in the U.S. One person would walk you into the bathroom, and then another person would take you out of the bathroom and take you to a different vehicle.''

Andrea told me she was transported to Juarez dozens of times. During one visit, when she was about 7 years old, the trafficker took her to the Radisson Casa Grande Hotel, where there was a john waiting in a room. The john was an older American man, and he read Bible passages to her before and after having sex with her. Andrea described other rooms she remembered in other hotels in Mexico: the Howard Johnson in Leon, the Crowne Plaza in Guadalajara. She remembers most of all the ceiling patterns. ''When I was taken to Mexico, I knew things were going to be different,'' she said. The ''customers'' were American businessmen. ''The men who went there had higher positions, had more to lose if they were caught doing these things on the other side of the border. I was told my purpose was to keep these men from abusing their own kids.'' Later she told me: ''The white kids you could beat but you couldn't mark. But with Mexican kids you could do whatever you wanted. They're untraceable. You lose nothing by killing them.''

Then she and the other children and teenagers in this cell were walked back across the border to El Paso by the traffickers. ''The border guards talked to you like, 'Did you have fun in Mexico?' And you answered exactly what you were told, 'Yeah, I had fun.' 'Runners' moved the harder-to-place kids, the darker or not-quite-as-well-behaved kids, kids that hadn't been broken yet.''

Another trafficking victim I met, a young woman named Montserrat, was taken to the United States from Veracruz, Mexico, six years ago, at age 13. (Montserrat is her nickname.) ''I was going to work in America,'' she told me. ''I wanted to go to school there, have an apartment and a red Mercedes Benz.'' Montserrat's trafficker, who called himself Alejandro, took her to Sonora, across the Mexican border from Douglas, Ariz., where she joined a group of a dozen other teenage girls, all with the same dream of a better life. They were from Chiapas, Guatemala, Oaxaca -- everywhere, she said.

The group was marched 12 hours through the desert, just a few of the thousands of Mexicans who bolted for America that night along the 2,000 miles of border. Cars were waiting at a fixed spot on the other side. Alejandro directed her to a Nissan and drove her and a few others to a house she said she thought was in Phoenix, the home of a white American family. ''It looked like America,'' she told me. ''I ate chicken. The family ignored me, watched TV. I thought the worst part was behind me.''

IN THE UNITED STATES: HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT

A week after Montserrat was taken across the border, she said, she and half a dozen other girls were loaded into a windowless van. ''Alejandro dropped off girls at gas stations as we drove, wherever there were minimarkets,'' Montserrat told me. At each drop-off there was somebody waiting. Sometimes a girl would be escorted to the bathroom, never to return to the van. They drove 24 hours a day. ''As the girls were leaving, being let out the back, all of them 14 or 15 years old, I felt confident,'' Montserrat said. We were talking in Mexico City, where she has been since she escaped from her trafficker four years ago. She's now 19, and shy with her body but direct with her gaze, which is flat and unemotional. ''I didn't know the real reason they were disappearing,'' she said. ''They were going to a better life.''

Eventually, only Montserrat and one other girl remained. Outside, the air had turned frigid, and there was snow on the ground. It was night when the van stopped at a gas station. A man was waiting. Montserrat's friend hopped out the back, gleeful. ''She said goodbye, I'll see you tomorrow,'' Montserrat recalled. ''I never saw her again.''

After leaving the gas station, Alejandro drove Montserrat to an apartment. A couple of weeks later he took her to a Dollarstore. ''He bought me makeup,'' Montserrat told me. ''He chose a short dress and a halter top, both black. I asked him why the clothes. He said it was for a party the owner of the apartment was having. He bought me underwear. Then I started to worry.'' When they arrived at the apartment, Alejandro left, saying he was coming back. But another man appeared at the door. ''The man said he'd already paid and I had to do whatever he said,'' Montserrat said. ''When he said he already paid, I knew why I was there. I was crushed.''

Montserrat said that she didn't leave that apartment for the next three months, then for nine months after that, Alejandro regularly took her in and out of the apartment for appointments with various johns.

Sex trafficking is one of the few human rights violations that rely on exposure: victims have to be available, displayed, delivered and returned. Girls were shuttled in open cars between the Plainfield, N.J., stash house and other locations in northern New Jersey like Elizabeth and Union City. Suri told her mother that she was being driven in a black town car -- just one of hundreds of black town cars traversing New York City at any time -- from her stash house in Queens to places where she was forced to have sex. A Russian ring drove women between various Brooklyn apartments and strip clubs in New Jersey. Andrea named trading hubs at highway rest stops in Deming, N.M.; Kingman, Ariz.; Boulder City, Nev.; and Glendale, Calif. Glendale, Andrea said, was a fork in the road; from there, vehicles went either north to San Jose or south toward San Diego. The traffickers drugged them for travel, she said. ''When they fed you, you started falling asleep.''

In the past several months, I have visited a number of addresses where trafficked girls and young women have reportedly ended up: besides the house in Plainfield, N.J., there is a row house on 51st Avenue in the Corona section of Queens, which has been identified to Mexican federal preventive police by escaped trafficking victims. There is the apartment at Barrington Plaza in the tony Westwood section of Los Angeles, one place that some of the Komisaruk/Mezheritsky ring's trafficking victims ended up, according to Daniel Saunders, the assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted the ring. And there's a house on Massachusetts Avenue in Vista, Calif., a San Diego suburb, which was pointed out to me by a San Diego sheriff. These places all have at least one thing in common: they are camouflaged by their normal, middle-class surroundings.

''This is not narco-traffic secrecy,'' says Sharon B. Cohn, director of anti-trafficking operations for the International Justice Mission. ''These are not people kidnapped and held for ransom, but women and children sold every single day. If they're hidden, their keepers don't make money.''
I.J.M.'s president, Gary Haugen, says: ''It's the easiest kind of crime in the world to spot. Men look for it all day, every day.''

But border agents and local policemen usually don't know trafficking when they see it. The operating assumption among American police departments is that women who sell their bodies do so by choice, and undocumented foreign women who sell their bodies are not only prostitutes (that is, voluntary sex workers) but also trespassers on U.S. soil. No Department of Justice attorney or police vice squad officer I spoke with in Los Angeles -- one of the country's busiest thoroughfares for forced sex traffic -- considers sex trafficking in the U.S. a serious problem, or a priority. A teenage girl arrested on Sunset Strip for solicitation, or a group of Russian sex workers arrested in a brothel raid in the San Fernando Valley, are automatically heaped onto a pile of workaday vice arrests.

The U.S. now offers 5,000 visas a year to trafficking victims to allow them to apply for residency. And there's faint hope among sex-trafficking experts that the Bush administration's recent proposal on Mexican immigration, if enacted, could have some positive effect on sex traffic into the U.S., by sheltering potential witnesses. ''If illegal immigrants who have information about victims have a chance at legal status in this country, they might feel secure enough to come forward,'' says John Miller of the State Department. But ambiguities still dominate on the front lines -- the borders and the streets of urban America -- where sex trafficking will always look a lot like prostitution.

''It's not a particularly complicated thing,'' says Sharon Cohn of International Justice Mission. ''Sex trafficking gets thrown into issues of intimacy and vice, but it's a major crime. It's purely profit and pleasure, and greed and lust, and it's right under homicide.''

IMPRISONMENT AND SUBMISSION

The basement, Andrea said, held as many as 16 children and teenagers of different ethnicities. She remembers that it was underneath a house in an upper-middle-class neighborhood on the West Coast. Throughout much of her captivity, this basement was where she was kept when she wasn't working. ''There was lots of scrawling on the walls,'' she said. ''The other kids drew stick figures, daisies, teddy bears. This Mexican boy would draw a house with sunshine. We each had a mat.''

Andrea paused. ''But nothing happens to you in the basement,'' she continued. ''You just had to worry about when the door opened.''

She explained: ''They would call you out of the basement, and you'd get a bath and you'd get a dress, and if your dress was yellow you were probably going to Disneyland.'' She said they used color coding to make transactions safer for the traffickers and the clients. ''At Disneyland there would be people doing drop-offs and pickups for kids. It's a big open area full of kids, and nobody pays attention to nobody. They would kind of quietly say, 'Go over to that person,' and you would just slip your hand into theirs and say, 'I was looking for you, Daddy.' Then that person would move off with one or two or three of us.''

Her account reminded me -- painfully -- of the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. In the story, a piper shows up and asks for 1,000 guilders for ridding the town of a plague of rats. Playing his pipe, he lures all the rats into the River Weser, where they drown. But Hamelin's mayor refuses to pay him. The piper goes back into the streets and again starts to play his music. This time ''all the little boys and girls, with rosy cheeks and flaxen curls, and sparkling eyes and teeth like pearls'' follow him out of town and into the hills. The piper leads the children to a mountainside, where a portal opens. The children follow him in, the cave closes and Hamelin's children -- all but one, too lame to keep up -- are never seen again.
Montserrat said that she was moved around a lot and often didn't know where she was. She recalled that she was in Detroit for two months before she realized that she was in ''the city where cars are made,'' because the door to the apartment Alejandro kept her in was locked from the outside. She says she was forced to service at least two men a night, and sometimes more. She watched through the windows as neighborhood children played outside. Emotionally, she slowly dissolved. Later, Alejandro moved her to Portland, Ore., where once a week he worked her out of a strip club. In all that time she had exactly one night off; Alejandro took her to see ''Scary Movie 2.''

All the girls I spoke to said that their captors were both psychologically and physically abusive. Andrea told me that she and the other children she was held with were frequently beaten to keep them off-balance and obedient. Sometimes they were videotaped while being forced to have sex with adults or one another. Often, she said, she was asked to play roles: the therapist's patient or the obedient daughter. Her cell of sex traffickers offered three age ranges of sex partners -- toddler to age 4, 5 to 12 and teens -- as well as what she called a ''damage group.'' ''In the damage group they can hit you or do anything they wanted,'' she explained. ''Though sex always hurts when you are little, so it's always violent, everything was much more painful once you were placed in the damage group.

''They'd get you hungry then to train you'' to have oral sex, she said. ''They'd put honey on a man. For the littlest kids, you had to learn not to gag. And they would push things in you so you would open up better. We learned responses. Like if they wanted us to be sultry or sexy or scared. Most of them wanted you scared. When I got older I'd teach the younger kids how to float away so things didn't hurt.''

Kevin Bales of Free the Slaves says: ''The physical path of a person being trafficked includes stages of degradation of a person's mental state. A victim gets deprived of food, gets hungry, a little dizzy and sleep-deprived. She begins to break down; she can't think for herself. Then take away her travel documents, and you've made her stateless. Then layer on physical violence, and she begins to follow orders. Then add a foreign culture and language, and she's trapped.''

Then add one more layer: a sex-trafficking victim's belief that her family is being tracked as collateral for her body. All sex-trafficking operations, whether Mexican, Ukrainian or Thai, are vast criminal underworlds with roots and branches that reach back to the countries, towns and neighborhoods of their victims.

''There's a vast misunderstanding of what coercion is, of how little it takes to make someone a slave,'' Gary Haugen of International Justice Mission said. ''The destruction of dignity and sense of self, these girls' sense of resignation. . . . '' He didn't finish the sentence.

In Tijuana in November, I met with Mamacita, a Mexican trafficking-victim-turned-madam, who used to oversee a stash house for sex slaves in San Diego. Mamacita (who goes by a nickname) was full of regret and worry. She left San Diego three years ago, but she says that the trafficking ring, run by three violent Mexican brothers, is still in operation. ''The girls can't leave,'' Mamacita said. ''They're always being watched. They lock them into apartments. The fear is unbelievable. They can't talk to anyone. They are always hungry, pale, always shaking and cold. But they never complain. If they do, they'll be beaten or killed.''

In Vista, Calif., I followed a pickup truck driven by a San Diego sheriff's deputy named Rick Castro. We wound past a tidy suburban downtown, a supermall and the usual hometown franchises. We stopped alongside the San Luis Rey River, across the street from a Baptist church, a strawberry farm and a municipal ballfield.

A neat subdivision and cycling path ran along the opposite bank. The San Luis Rey was mostly dry, filled now with an impenetrable jungle of 15-foot-high bamboolike reeds. As Castro and I started down a well-worn path into the thicket, he told me about the time he first heard about this place, in October 2001. A local health care worker had heard rumors about Mexican immigrants using the reeds for sex and came down to offer condoms and advice. She found more than 400 men and 50 young women between 12 and 15 dressed in tight clothing and high heels. There was a separate group of a dozen girls no more than 11 or 12 wearing white communion dresses. ''The girls huddled in a circle for protection,'' Castro told me, ''and had big eyes like terrified deer.''

I followed Castro into the riverbed, and only 50 yards from the road we found a confounding warren of more than 30 roomlike caves carved into the reeds. It was a sunny morning, but the light in there was refracted, dreary and basementlike. The ground in each was a squalid nest of mud, tamped leaves, condom wrappers, clumps of toilet paper and magazines. Soiled underwear was strewn here and there, plastic garbage bags jury-rigged through the reeds in lieu of walls. One of the caves' inhabitants had hung old CD's on the tips of branches, like Christmas ornaments. It looked vaguely like a recent massacre site. It was 8 in the morning, but the girls could begin arriving any minute. Castro told me how it works: the girls are dropped off at the ballfield, then herded through a drainage sluice under the road into the riverbed. Vans shuttle the men from a 7-Eleven a mile away. The girls are forced to turn 15 tricks in five hours in the mud. The johns pay $15 and get 10 minutes. It is in nearly every respect a perfect extension of Calle Santo Tomas in Mexico City. Except that this is what some of those girls are training for.

If anything, the women I talked to said that the sex in the U.S. is even rougher than what the girls face on Calle Santo Tomas. Rosario, a woman I met in Mexico City, who had been trafficked to New York and held captive for a number of years, said: ''In America we had 'special jobs.' Oral sex, anal sex, often with many men. Sex is now more adventurous, harder.'' She said that she believed younger foreign girls were in demand in the U.S. because of an increased appetite for more aggressive, dangerous sex. Traffickers need younger and younger girls, she suggested, simply because they are more pliable. In Eastern Europe, too, the typical age of sex-trafficking victims is plummeting; according to Matei of Reaching Out, while most girls used to be in their late teens and 20's, 13-year-olds are now far from unusual.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents at the Cyber Crimes Center in Fairfax, Va., are finding that when it comes to sex, what was once considered abnormal is now the norm. They are tracking a clear spike in the demand for harder-core pornography on the Internet. ''We've become desensitized by the soft stuff; now we need a harder and harder hit,'' says I.C.E. Special Agent Perry Woo. Cybernetworks like KaZaA and Morpheus / through which you can download and trade images and videos -- have become the Mexican border of virtual sexual exploitation. I had heard of one Web site that supposedly offered sex slaves for purchase to individuals. The I.C.E. agents hadn't heard of it. Special Agent Don Daufenbach, I.C.E.'s manager for undercover operations, brought it up on a screen. A hush came over the room as the agents leaned forward, clearly disturbed. ''That sure looks like the real thing,'' Daufenbach said. There were streams of Web pages of thumbnail images of young women of every ethnicity in obvious distress, bound, gagged, contorted. The agents in the room pointed out probable injuries from torture. Cyberauctions for some of the women were in progress; one had exceeded $300,000. ''With new Internet technology,'' Woo said, ''pornography is becoming more pervasive. With Web cams we're seeing more live molestation of children.'' One of I.C.E.'s recent successes, Operation Hamlet, broke up a ring of adults who traded images and videos of themselves forcing sex on their own young children.

But the supply of cheap girls and young women to feed the global appetite appears to be limitless. And it's possible that the crimes committed against them in the U.S. cut deeper than elsewhere, precisely because so many of them are snared by the glittery promise of an America that turns out to be not their salvation but their place of destruction.

ENDGAME

Typically, a young trafficking victim in the U.S. lasts in the system for two to four years. After that, Bales says: ''She may be killed in the brothel. She may be dumped and deported. Probably least likely is that she will take part in the prosecution of the people that enslaved her.''

Who can expect a young woman trafficked into the U.S., trapped in a foreign culture, perhaps unable to speak English, physically and emotionally abused and perhaps drug-addicted, to ask for help from a police officer, who more likely than not will look at her as a criminal and an illegal alien? Even Andrea, who was born in the United States and spoke English, says she never thought of escaping, ''because what's out there? What's out there was scarier. We had customers who were police, so you were not going to go talk to a cop. We had this customer from Nevada who was a child psychologist, so you're not going to go talk to a social worker. So who are you going to talk to?''

And if the girls are lucky enough to escape, there's often nowhere for them to go. ''The families don't want them back,'' Sister Veronica, a nun who helps run a rescue mission for trafficked prostitutes in an old church in Mexico City, told me. ''They're shunned.''

When I first met her, Andrea told me: ''We're way too damaged to give back. A lot of these children never wanted to see their parents again after a while, because what do you tell your parents? What are you going to say? You're no good.''

Peter Landesman is a contributing writer for the magazine. He last wrote about illegal weapons trafficking.

 

LibertadLatina.org: Additional facts about the sexual slavery of children in Latin America

Globally, an estimated 2 million women and children are enslaved by criminal traffickers in sexual slavery. 
 
 Dr. Cherif Bassiouni, president of the International Human Rights Law Institute,  DePaul Law School, is the author of "A Study of the Trafficking of Women and Children for Sexual Exploitation in the Americas" funded by U.S. AID and the OAS.  Dr. Bassiouni estimates that globally, 30,000 women and children die annually from AIDS, torture and neglect related to being enslaved human trafficking victims.  This fact qualifies trafficking as the World's number one human rights issue according to Dr. Bassiouni, a legal scholar in Nuremberg, the Yugoslav war & other aspects of crimes against humanity law. 
  
Sexual slavery is a death sentence for  women & children!
  

 Over 100,000 Latin American women and girls are

trafficked into sexual slavery each year.  They are kidnapped or entrapped (offered so-called "legitimate" jobs overseas), and then they are trafficked & sold to brothels around the World.  Latina women and girl children are literally enslaved by the thousands in Japan, Holland, Spain, across Latin America and within the U.S.

 
Over 35,000 women are trafficked from Colombia each  year, bringing annual criminal profits of $500 million.  Over 5,000 Colombian women are enslaved in Holland alone.
 
 An in-depth CIA study from 1999 reports that 50,000  people are trafficked into the U.S. annually as slaves.  At least 1/3rd of those victims are Latina women and girls. 
 
An estimated 15,000 young Mexican girls are trafficked into the United States each year, most are forced into sex slavery.  Some of them are as young as 8 years old.
 
A ten month study by Covenant House-Latin America,  announced in April, 2002, used 56 researchers to go undercover to document the fact that thousands of Central America's children are enslaved by well financed & highly organized pedophile sex trafficking gangs. 12 year old Central American girls are sold for $100-$200 each.
 

"Child prostitution rings working in sex shops throughout Colombia were raided in September 1998, freeing 370 minors aged 12-16. Twenty-nine adults were arrested. The children where being held in slavery-like conditions, were abused and forced into prostitution. At least 145 of the children where found in [the major city of] Cartegena, a busy sex-tourist destination."

  

- Reuters,  September 26, 1998

 

Mexico -- 2002 -- Child Kidnappings - "While the recent kidnappings of children in California have horrified Americans, an extraordinarily high rate of child disappearances in Mexico has alarmed authorities and citizens there. Child advocacy groups say as many as 135,000 children have been kidnapped in the past three years. It is feared that  many of the children are being sold into the sex and pornography industries. NPR's Gerry Hadden reports from Mexico City. (4:00)"  Listen  Listen

 

From All Things Considered, National Public Radio. (Get Real Player)

 

Mexico - 2002 -- 20,000 Children Disappear Each Year More than 20,000 Mexican families a year suffer the disappearance of a young son or daughter, many of whom are adopted illegally by families abroad or are victims of sexual exploitation or even trafficking of human organs, reports the National Disappeared Children Confederation. The number of children who have gone issing in the last six years, says the Confederation, could reach 130,000, a number considered credible by Oscar Moreno, the Attorney General Office's Special Prosecutor against Trafficking in Minors, a post created last year.

 

Related issues covered on LibertadLatina.org:

The crisis of Latina sexual slavery in Latin America

The crisis of Latina sexual slavery in the United States

The San Diego, California 'Child Rape Camps' Crisis

The Sexual Exploitation Crisis in Mexico

Sexual Exploitation in Indigenous Latin  America

Sexual Exploitation in Indigenous Mexico

Libertad Latina's 2003 Slavery Report

Sex trafficking affects hundreds of thousands of women across Latin America. We focus here upon the largest component of the Latin America to U.S. problem, the trafficking of girls and women from Mexico and Central America across the U.S. border, and their subsequent sexual exploitation through forced prostitution in the United States.

Return to the top of this page

 
 
     
 
     
 
     
    

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Updated: Oct. 11, 2010


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LibertadLatina

Analysis of the political actions and policies of Mexico's National Action Party (PAN) in regard to their detrimental impact on women's basic human rights



Últimas Noticias

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Added: Oct. 11, 2010

Mexico

Grant lets law school fight human trafficking in Mexico

The University of Michigan Law School is working with a law school in Mexico to take on human trafficking.

The law school has received a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of State to establish a human trafficking clinic at the Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas, Unidad Académica de Derecho, a law school located in north central Mexico. The Mexican clinic is an offshoot of the human trafficking clinic that Michigan launched in 2009, which was the first of its kind in the United States.

"The part that I'm excited about is that here in the U.S., we can do a lot as far as assisting prosecutors and victims of trafficking," said Bridgette Carr, who directs the Michigan clinic. "What we can't work on as much is prevention, because we're sitting here in Ann Arbor. The goal is to not have clients."

Human trafficking involves the recruitment, transportation and harboring of people for forced labor, servitude or slavery. Agriculture, spas and massage parlors, hotels and prostitution are just a few industries that have been connected to human trafficking.

One of the goals of the Mexican clinic, which will represent a partnership between the two law schools and a local nongovernmental organization called Centro de los Derechos del Migrante (Center for Migrant Rights), is to educate people about human trafficking. Although it will officially be part of the Mexican law school, the Michigan law school will help set up the clinic.

"This is really an opportunity to see how we can most effectively advocate for these clients on a transnational basis," Carr said.

The partnership between the two clinics is a real innovation, said center founder and executive director Rachel Micah-Jones. "Students will provide quality legal representation to vulnerable migrant communities whose legal needs often cross borders," she said. "In doing so, students will develop the skills to be transnational advocates in this new economy."

In the year that the Ann Arbor-based clinic has been running, students have assisted clients who were forced to work in hair braiding salons, restaurants and in the commercial sex industry. The clinic's 15 students are part lawyer, part caseworker. They assist victims of human trafficking in criminal and immigration proceedings, but also help them obtain services such as federal money to attend college, Carr said...

The Justice Department grant will fund the project for two years.

Karen Sloan

The National Law Journal

Oct. 11, 2010


Added: Oct. 8, 2010

Mexico

Insiste México en negar justicia a víctimas de violación en Atenco

Pide a la CIDH que no admita 11 casos de 26 mujeres violadas

México, DF - El gobierno mexicano pidió a la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH), que no admita el caso de 11 de las 26 mujeres, que fueron víctimas de violación sexual, durante los operativos del 3 y 4 de mayo de 2006 en Texcoco y San Salvador Atenco, porque las instancias nacionales "aún lo están investigando".

Además insistió en que las peticionarias han tenido diversas vías y recursos legales para acceder a la justicia. Con esta respuesta, el Estado mexicano no reconoce los hechos ocurridos hace cuatro años y tampoco acepta su responsabilidad en ellos, dijo en conferencia de prensa, Jaqueline Sáenz, abogada del Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez (Centro Prodh), asociación que lleva estros casos ante el sistema interamericano.

Aunque en febrero de 2009, la Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación (SCJN), reconoció que en los operativos de 2006, se cometieron graves violaciones a derechos humanos; y pese a que el 30 de junio de este año, este mismo tribunal ordenó la liberación de 12 presos políticos que participaron en esos hechos, el Estado mexicano sigue negando la justicia para 11 mujeres violadas sexualmente...

Mexico insists upon denying justice to the victims of rape at Atenco

Mexico City - The government of Mexico has asked the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IAHRC) to reject consideration of the case of 11 women [from among a total of 26 women victims] who were raped or otherwise sexually assaulted by police officers during a law enforcement operation carried out on May 3rd and 4th of 2006 in the adjoining cities of Texcoco and San Salvador de Atenco, in the state of Mexico. The federal government of Mexico cites the fact that it is still investigating the case [4 years after the events occurred] as the justification for requesting that the IAHRC deny the petition by the victims and their attorneys.

In addition, Mexican officials insisted that the petitioners have had access to a range of legal avenues within Mexico.

According to Jaqueline Sáenz, a lawyer with the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center (ProDH), which represents the victims, the government of Mexico has, through its response to the IAHRC, refused to acknowledge or accept any responsibility for the events that occurred four years ago in Atenco.

Mexico takes this position despite the fact that the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) has recognized that grave human rights violations that occurred during the 2006 police operation, and has acted to free 12 political prisoners who participated in protest activities at the event. Nonetheless, Mexico's federal government continues to deny justice for the 11 women sexual assault victims who were willing to seek justice in this case.

Following public protests resulting from a local government ban on allowing flower vendors to work on city streets, a confrontation erupted between protesters and a combined force of federal and state police. The conflict resulted in 211 protesters being detained. Some 47 of those arrested were women. Twenty six women were raped or sexually abused by police officers. Of that group, 13 filed formal complaints, and 11 victims were willing to proceed with the case that is now being considered by the IAHRC.

Sáenz stated that, after seeing that the federal investigation into victim's legal complaints was not progressing, the 11 victims of sexual torture, accompanied by lawyers from ProDH and the International Center for Justice and the Rule of Law (CEJIL), decided to petition the IAHRC on April 29, 2008.

The IAHRC forwarded the petition to the government of Mexico, and allowed for a two month response period. Mexico did not respond within the time limit, and requested an extension. They finally submitted their response on July 23, 2010.

Mexico's response to the petition, which was received by the ProDH Center on September 1, 2010, stated that the investigation into the Atenco case was still open. In addition, the response completely absolved the five policemen who were accused of abuse of authority, despite the fact that the victim's petition before the IAHRC accuses the five men of torture.

Sáenz noted that, consistent with their response to the IAHRC, Mexico denies that any human rights violations occurred at Atenco in their discussions with international organizations.

Since July of 2009, when the federal Special Prosecutor's Office for Violent Crimes Against Women and Human Trafficking (FEVIMTRA), declined to investigate the case, referring it instead to the Attorney General of Mexico State [were Texcoco and Atenco are located], no follow-up action has been taken by authorities, because the preliminary investigation file was quite large, and it is still being revised.

Mexico's response to the IAHRC petition by the victims included a list upcoming investigatory activities that the Mexico State prosecutors will carry out. The list includes a plan to solicit interviews with the victims, despite the fact that the victims have been adequately interviewed in the past. State prosecutors also plan to evaluate the case in the context of the Istanbul Protocol on Torture [to evaluate whether the case meets the Istanbul standard for torture], despite the fact that this process has already been completed, and the results indicate that the case does meet the Istanbul criteria for defining acts of torture.

On October 1, 2010, Sáenz declared, the ProDH Center and CEJIL submitted a document to the IAHRC in which they provide their observations in regard to Mexico's response to the Atenco case petition. They state, among other things, that although they have not exhausted all legal avenues available within Mexico, it is also true that Mexico is not conducting a serious and impartial investigation, and that therefore, the Atenco petition should be admitted before the IAHRC.

In response to this series of events, Bárbara Italia Méndez, one of the victims and a petitioner in the case, observed that the Mexican government response to the petition was a slap in the face to the victims. In addition, she said, the response shows the lack of justice involved, given that the five accused assailants were absolved of any wrongdoing.

Italia Méndez added that she will continue participating in the case, although she knows that the road will be a long one, thanks to the fact that "the responsible authorities continue to lie," and especially the governor of Mexico State, who had ordered the police crackdown on protesters, and who, after the assaults took place, declared that he would repeat his actions if he had to do it again.

For the victims of sexual torture, the most recent ray of hope has been the Inter-American Court of Human Rights decision in favor of indigenous women Valentina Rosendo Cantú and Inés Fernández Ortega, who were raped by Mexican Army soldiers [in 2002]. That decision, she said, puts the issue of sexual violence against women back on the table.

Anayeli García Martínez

CIMAC Women's news agency

Oct. 07, 2010

See also:

Added: May 16, 2009

Mexico

Mujeres de Atenco, tortura sexual e impunidad

México DF - El Estado mexicano violó sus garantías individuales. Fueron agredidas con golpes en todo el cuerpo, despojadas de su ropa, violentadas sexualmente, mordidas, pellizcadas… les cubrieron el rostro, les introdujeron dedos y objetos anal y vaginalmente, las violaron, las humillaron, las insultaron, las amenazaron de muerte y finalmente se les negó la asistencia ginecológica para que no pudieran demostrar la tortura sexual…

Women of Atenco - sexual torture and impunity

...Of the 20 accused policemen, none has been sent to prison. Only officer Doroteo Blas Marcelo, a rapist, was convicted for "libidinous acts."

His victim, Ana Maria Rodriguez Velasco, was forced to perform oral sex. She was able to recognize her torturer because when he finished, he yanked her by the hair, looked in her face, and said: “Now swallow it, bitch!”

Judge Tomás Santana Malvaez sentenced officer Blas Marcelo to pay a fine of only 1,877 Mexican pesos (US $142 dollars). The judge pardoned Blas Marcelo from paying reparations to the victim...

Full English Translation

Sanjuana Martínez

CIMAC Noticias

News for Women

Mexico City

May 12, 2009

See also:

LibertadLatina

Mexican Police Rape and Assault 47 Women at Street Protest in the city of San Salvador Atenco


Added: Oct. 7, 2010

Mexico

Teresa Ulloa, director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women and Girls for Latin America and the Caribbean

DF, a la cabeza en lucha contra trata de personas: Teresa Ulloa

El Distrito Federal va a la cabeza en la lucha contra la trata de personas en el país, pues ha dado pasos importantes como los últimos rescates de mujeres y niñas de hoteles donde eran explotadas sexualmente, reconoció Teresa Ulloa.

La directora regional de la Coalición Contra el Tráfico de Mujeres y Niñas para América Latina y el Caribe (CATWLAC, por sus siglas en inglés) afirmó en entrevista que la ciudad de México también cuenta con un plan que integra políticas públicas en la materia.

La activista, nominada al Premio de Derechos Humanos de las Naciones Unidas 2005 y al Premio de Derechos Humanos del gobierno de Suiza, indicó que en los últimos tres años la capital del país ha mostrado un esfuerzo y se ha preocupado más por atacar la trata de personas...

Mexico City's government leads the way in Mexico's fight against human trafficking

According to Teresa Ulloa, director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women and Girls for Latin America and the Caribbean, the local government of Mexico City has taken the initiative to become the nation's leader in taking action to combat modern human slavery. In recent months, city police and prosecutors have raided a number of hotels that were fronts for sex trafficking rings that exploited women and girls.

During an interview Ulloa said that Mexico City has also developed an integrated plan of action to address the problem of trafficking. She added that during the past three years, the city's leaders have shown that they are willing to aggressively confront traffickers. City prosecutors have committed to bringing trafficking cases to court. However, [the attitudes of] judges continue to be a major obstacle to their success.

Ulloa added that Mexico City is a major transit and distribution center for trafficked women and girls. Sex tourism exists, but is completely clandestine. Sexual services are sold in 'packages' on the Internet.
The trafficking law that was passed by the Legislative Assembly of the Federal District [Mexico City] has flaws, and is not consistent with international protocols against human trafficking, especially in the area of criminal prosecution, said Ulloa. It is seen as being of limited effectiveness because of these flaws.
Ulloa declared that both Mexico City and Mexico as a whole have yet to come to understand that human trafficking involves a multi-faceted set of crimes that express themselves in diverse ways.

Ulloa noted that human trafficking networks in Mexico are moving fast to adapt to change, and are always one step ahead of society's attempts to implement policies and actions to combat them.

The Mexico City government has made tremendous efforts to fight trafficking, said Ulloa, but they have been hampered in their efforts at prosecution by inadequate laws. Nonetheless, city prosecutors has won four convictions against trafficking defendants, while the federal government has achieved only one conviction at the national level.

Mexico City's trafficking law "is not very good, it requires modification, but in general it has allowed authorities to rescue women and girls, and it is being enforced by officials who are motivated to combat trafficking" said Ulloa.

Ulloa stated that, at the federal level, a need exists to establish effective, integrated strategies in regard to prevention, victim assistance and the prosecution of traffickers. She warned that Mexico is just one step away from becoming a child sex trafficking center at the level of Thailand.

Ulloa concluded by observing that sex trafficking in Mexico has now displaced narcotrafficking in profitability for criminal organizations, and is fighting for first place with illicit arms trafficking. At the same time, she emphasized, poverty and impunity have become the best allies of traffickers in women and girls.

Cronica

Oct. 03, 2010


Added: Oct. 7, 2010

Mexico

Mexico City Attorney General Miguel Ángel Mancera

Detalla PGJDF acciones para combatir la trata de personas

El procurador general de justicia capitalino, Miguel Ángel Mancera, detalló frente a sus homólogos de la zona Centro del país las acciones emprendidas en la Ciudad de México contra el delito de trata de personas.

Durante la Segunda Sesión 2010 de la Conferencia de Procuradores Generales de Justicia de la Zona Centro, Mancera Espinosa señaló que el Gobierno del Distrito Federal ha impulsado una serie de acciones de prevención y persecución para erradicar este delito.

En una sesión de trabajo de esta reunión celebrada el pasado viernes en la ciudad de Puebla, el abogado de la ciudad reconoció que pese a los esfuerzos para erradicar ese acto ilícito, el crimen organizado usa otros medios delincuenciales para eludir la acción de la justicia.

Para contrarrestar las artimañas de los delincuentes, el gobierno capitalino tiene como prioridad establecer políticas públicas en la materia que permitan desactivar y desalentar las conductas delictivas de los individuos...

Mexico City prosecutor details actions to fight human trafficking

During a recent presentation before fellow local prosecutors at the Second Conference of Attorney Generals of the Central Zone of Mexico, Mexico City Attorney General Miguel Ángel Mancera presented his city's strategy and actions to fight human trafficking.

Mancera detailed to his colleagues how Mexico City has initiated a series of efforts to address prevention and prosecution of trafficking crimes. He admitted that going after trafficking networks was difficult work, given that organized crime changes its modus operandi to evade detention and prosecution.

To counteract the evasive actions of traffickers, Mexico City considers its number one priority to be the implementation of public policies that will allow prosecutors to disable and discourage the criminal behavior of individuals.

Mancera noted that, among the actions taken by Mexico City was the implementation in October of 2008 of the Law to Prevent and Eradicate Human Trafficking, Sexual Abuse and the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children.

Mancera added that the city created a specialized agency to address human trafficking crimes, and developed both a telephone hotline and a web page to assist in crime prevention and the reporting of cases by the public.

Currently, the Mexico City Attorney General's Office is in the process of formalizing a relationship with the Special Prosecutors Office for Crimes of Violence Against Women and Children, which is a division of the federal Attorney General of the Republic...

The conference was attended by the attorney generals of Hidalgo, Morelos, Tlaxcala, Puebla states, as well as by officials from Baja California, Sur, Baja California, Guerrero and Oaxaca.

Cronica

Oct. 03, 2010


Added: Oct. 7, 2010

North Carolina, USA

Human trafficking alleged in Durham

Durham - A grand jury has indicted Ivan Cervantes Damian on charges he held a 15-year-old girl captive for more than 18 months and forced her to have sex.

Damian, 30, faces charges of first-degree statutory sex offense, human trafficking and forcing a child into sexual servitude.

Authorities accuse Damian of having sex with the teenage girl between December 2008 and August 2009. They also accuse him of holding the victim in servitude from December 2008 to July 2010.

"He alienated her from society," said Durham Police Cpl. Marty Walkowe.

Walkowe said the relationship began as a voluntary one while the couple was still living in Mexico. When they immigrated a couple of years ago, Walkowe said, Damian violated North Carolina's human trafficking law by bringing a minor from another nation into the state.

"Even though his girlfriend left voluntarily, because she was a minor, it's human trafficking," Walkowe said. "It sounds like a big organized thing, but it was actually just her voluntarily coming from Mexico with him to here."

Walkowe said the victim reported Damian to police after their relationship soured and she wanted to leave.

Damian is being held at the Durham County Detention Center on $250,000 bail. The federal Immigration and Customs

Jesse James Deconto

News Observer

Oct. 06, 2010


Added: Oct. 6, 2010

California, USA

Gregorio Gonzalez

Alert Driver Saves Kidnapped Girl

Fresno - An 8-year-old girl who was abducted by a stranger while playing outside a Fresno home escaped from her captor Tuesday morning after a driver recognized the suspect's vehicle and cut it off, police said.

The child was found in Fresno about 11 hours after she disappeared around 8:30 p.m. Monday, triggering a statewide Amber Alert. Police arrested Gregorio Gonzalez, 24, who they said was a member of the Bulldogs street gang.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said the driver recognized the red pickup truck from media reports that showed surveillance video of the kidnapper's vehicle.

When the driver saw a girl's head in the window, he cut the truck off and forced it to stop, Dyer said. The suspect pushed the girl out of the car, and she ran to safety, he said.

The girl was taken to a hospital in good condition, but Dyer later confirmed she had been sexually assaulted. The police chief described her as "frightened, traumatized." ...

"I was at the same time happy and grateful that my daughter had been brought home," the girl's mother told a news conference. "During the night, the hours seemed very long."

Police said quick action by Fresno resident Victor Perez helped the girl escape...

The Associated Press

Olivia Mu

Oct. 05, 2010


Added: Oct. 6, 2010

Guatemala, Mexico

Another Wall Blocks Route to U.S.

Guatemala City - Travelling without documents to the United States from Latin America can turn into an odyssey, in which migrants have to elude common criminals and drug traffickers along the way, not to mention the laws on migration. But now another obstacle is emerging: a wall between Guatemala and Mexico.

According to the head of customs for Mexico's tax administration, Raúl Díaz, in order to stop boats carrying contraband, the southern Mexican state of Chiapas is building a wall along the border river Suchiate, similar to the one the United States is building along its southern border with Mexico.

"It could also prevent the free passage of illegal immigrants," admitted the Mexican official.

Smugglers use the Suchiate River to move products across an international border without paying duty taxes, but at the same time, thousands of Central and South Americans cross the river in their attempts to reach the United States in search of opportunity -- and without the required documents.

Some 500,000 migrants cross Mexican territory without permission each year, according to Mexico's National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH).

The intention to build a border wall has triggered a wave of opposition from civil society and government organizations, with charges that it is a "senseless" measure that will not succeed in preventing undocumented migrants from crossing the border on their way north...

The cruelty to which undocumented migrants are often subjected was laid bare Aug. 23, when 72 people coming from Guatemala, as well as El Salvador, Honduras, Ecuador and Brazil, were brutally murdered in San Fernando, a town in the eastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas. They were presumably killed by the Los Zetas drug cartel, which is also involved in kidnapping and exploiting migrants.

In addition, a total of 9,758 kidnappings of migrants were reported in Mexico from September 2008 to February 2009, according to the CNDH.

Putting up a wall on the Guatemala-Mexico border "is going to make the migrants' situation worse, because to meet their needs they are always going to find blind points where there are no migration or security controls, which implies greater risks," said Maldonado...

Danilo Valladares

Inter Press Service (IPS)

Sep. 15 , 2010


Added: Oct. 5, 2010

California, USA

Police search for man in California girl's abduction

Authorities early Tuesday were searching for a man they said snatched an 8-year-old girl from a central California neighborhood and took off with her in his pickup.

Police said the mother was close by and got into a car and frantically tried to chase down the truck but was not able to catch up with the man...

[The girl] was last seen wearing bluejeans and a purple sweater with "Winnie the Pooh" on the front, Fresno police said.

Police said the suspect, described as a 6-foot-tall, thin man with slicked-back hair, drove to the Fresno neighborhood in an older reddish-brown Ford truck. The man drove up to six children about 8:30 p.m. Monday.

The man spoke in Spanish and told the children that he would take them to the Dollar Store and buy them toys if they got into his car, CNN affiliate KFSN-TV in Fresno reported.

The man then pulled the victim into his car and sped away, authorities said.

Police told the TV station they had received reports earlier of a man with a similar description and vehicle exposing himself to young girls blocks away from where the abduction happened.

Fresno police said 100 officers were searching for the girl and the suspect, KFSN reported.

Scott Thompson

CNN

Oct. 05, 2010


Added: Oct. 5, 2010

Mexico

Inés Fernández and Valentina Rosendo

Comunicado: Las sentencias de la CoIDH permitirán a Inés y Valentina acceder a la justicia negada en México.

Press Release: Inter-American Court of Human RIghts Decision Allows Inés and Valentina Access to Justice in Mexico

• Valentina Rosendo Cantú narró lo que el fallo del Tribunal significa para ella, su familia y su comunidad.

• Cejil y Tlachinollan explicaron los alcances y el impacto de estas sentencias; Emilio Álvarez Icaza abundó en la relevancia que tienen para el momento actual.

• Valentina y sus representantes reiteran su exigencia de seguridad para Inés y Valentina

México, D.F., a 4 de octubre de 2010.- Valentina Rosendo Cantú y sus representantes -las organizaciones civiles CEJIL y Tlachinollan- detallaron en conferencia de prensa los contenidos y alcances de las sentencias de los casos de las indígenas me´phaa Inés Fernández Ortega y Valentina Rosendo Cantú que fueron notificadas por la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CoIDH) el pasado viernes 1 de octubre. Esta mañana, en la conferencia, estuvo presente también el ex ombudsman capitalino, Emilio Álvarez Icaza y el abogado Mario Patrón.

Valentina Rosendo Cantú explicó su sentir en este momento en que después de más de ocho años de búsqueda de justicia, vividos en condiciones de adversidad y de riesgo, finalmente la CoIDH le ha dado la razón, estableciendo como un hecho incontrovertible que fue violada sexualmente y torturada por soldados mexicanos. “Por fin se reconoció que siempre dijimos la verdad”, dijo la mujer Me’phaa. Rosendo Cantú también externó algunas de sus más sentidas preocupaciones, compartidas tanto por ella como por Inés Fernández Ortega, y señaló: “Ya que por fin se demostró que siempre dijimos la verdad porque no sabemos mentir, para nosotras y nuestras familias lo más importante ahorita es que nos dejen vivir en paz, con tranquilidad”...

Valentina Rosendo Cantú and her representatives - the organizations CEJIL and the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center, explained during a press conference the details of the October 1, 2010 decision by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) in the cases of Rosendo Cantu and Inés Fernández Ortega. Emilio Álvarez Icaza, former director of the Human Rights Commission for Mexico City, and lawyer Mario Patrón were present at the event.

Valentina Rosendo Cantú said that, after 8 years of seeking justice in her case [in which Mexican soldiers raped her], years that involved adversity and risks [due to repeated death threats and acts of retaliation against the victims and their families], the IACHR has finally vindicated us.

Justice for Inés and Valentina

Oct. 04, 2010

See also:

Added: Oct. 5, 2010

Mexico

Abel Barrera, director of the Tlachinollan Center (left) joins  Alejandra Nuño, Central American director for CEJIL; Valentina Rosendo Cantú, and Emilio Álvarez Icaza, former president of theMexico City Human Rights Commission - at press conference. The banner says: "Break Through the Walls of Impunity."

Human Rights Court: Mexico responsible for rapes

Mexico City - The Inter-American Court of Human Rights condemned Mexico on Monday for failing to protect the rights of two indigenous women who were raped by soldiers in 2002.

In two separate rulings, the Costa Rica-based court said Mexico failed to guarantee the rights to personal integrity, dignity and legal protection of Valentina Rosendo and Ines Fernandez, both of southern Guerrero state.

Mexico must publicly acknowledge its responsibility and called for a civilian investigation into the crimes, rather than the military one, which resulted in no charges, according to the ruling. The government also must compensate both women and publish the court rulings in Spanish and the women's indigenous language, Me'phaa.

The government said will follow the rulings, the Interior Department said in a statement.

"The government of Mexico reiterates its full commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, in particular to combat violence against women and girls," the statement said.

It was the fourth condemnation of Mexico from the court, which previously issued rulings against the government for the unsolved killings of women in the border city of Cuidad Juarez in the 1990s and for the country's "dirty war" in the 1970s.

Rosendo called on the government to publicly recognize that it wrongly accused her of lying about being assaulted.

"If the government has a little bit of dignity, it should accept they were mistaken so I can go on with my life," she said tearfully at a news conference. "They didn't want to hear me in my own country."

Rosendo, then 17, was washing clothes in a river in February of 2002 when eight soldiers came up and asked her about the whereabouts of a masked suspect. When she said she didn't know anything, she was beaten and raped.

A month later, in another indigenous community in Guerrero, at least 11 soldiers approached Fernandez in her house and asked for her husband. She didn't respond because she didn't speak Spanish, and the soldiers raped her.

No one was punished in either case.

E. Eduardo Castillo

The Associated Press

Oct. 04, 2010

See also:

Added: Oct. 5, 2010

Mexico

Valentina Rosendo Cantú at the Inter-American Court session where she presented of her case on May 28, 2010

Mexico Ordered to Pay Damages to Women Raped by Soldiers

San Jose - The Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered the Mexican government to pay damages to two indigenous women raped by soldiers in 2002.

The Costa Rica-based court, a body of the Organization of American States, on Monday published on its Web page rulings against Mexico for the rapes of the Indian women Me’phaa Valentina Rosendo Cantu and Ines Fernandez Ortega, as well as for the lack of investigation by the authorities in both cases.

The court’s rulings are binding on OAS members.

Mexico was found to have violated the rights and personal integrity, dignity and autonomy of the two indigenous women, who lived in the municipality of Ayutla de Los Libres, in the southern state of Guerrero.

In both cases, the Court ordered Mexico to guarantee that the investigations would be conducted “with the knowledge of the civil jurisdiction” and “under no circumstances under military jurisdiction,” and that those found to be responsible would be punished.

In the case of Rosendo Cantu, the Court set at a total of $100,500 the indemnity to which she would be entitled for material damages, immaterial damages and trial costs, while the figure established was $128,000 in the case of Fernandez Ortega.

The Court also ordered Mexico “to modernize its legislation” so that human rights violations will not fall under military jurisdiction and so that “people affected by the intervention of military jurisdiction may have effective recourse to challenge it.”

The state also must take public action to acknowledge its international responsibility, authorize study scholarships for the victims and their children, and ensure that services to care for female victims of sexual violence “are provided by the designated institutions,” among other things...

EFE

Oct. 04, 2010

See also:

Added: Oct. 5, 2010

Mexico

Mexico Ordered To Pay Damages To Two Indigenous Women Raped By Soldiers

In two separate rulings, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights condemned the Mexican government and ordered it to pay damages to two indigenous women who were raped in 2002 by soldiers.

The court said that Mexico failed to guarantee the rights to personal integrity, dignity and legal protection of Ines Fernandez and Valentina Rosendo, both from the southern Mexican state of Guerrero.

Mexico, which has to publicly acknowledge its responsibility, must also compensate both women and publish the court rulings in Spanish and the women’s indigenous language, Me’phaa. The Mexican government promised to fulfill the demands of the court ruling.

“The government of Mexico reiterates its full commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, in particular to combat violence against women and girls,” according to a statement released by Mexico’s Interior Department, the Associated Press reports...

Latin America News Dispatch

Oct. 05, 2010

See also:


Added: Dec. 4, 2010

Mexico / The United States

Indigenous human rights activist Abel Barrera Hernandez, the founder and director of the Tlachinollan Human Rights Centre

Mexican Activist Wins Prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award

Washington, DC / Mexico City - An anthropologist and human rights defender who has worked for years with the indigenous people in one of Mexico's poorest and most marginalized regions has been awarded one of the world's most important human rights prizes.

Abel Barrera Hernandez, the founder and director of the Tlachinollan Human Rights Centre of the Montana in the state of Guerrero, will receive this year's Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award in recognition of his efforts to end abuses committed by the military and police against the local population, the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights announced here Thursday.

"Our friends at the Tlachinollah Centre represent true courage in their struggle to expose and confront ongoing human rights abuses," said Claudio Grossman, the dean of the Washington College of Law at American University and a member of the five-person jury that decided on this year's winner.

"By standing with the most vulnerable communities, Abel Barrera Hernandez and his colleagues are at great personal risk, and we are proud to recognize their work with this prestigious award," added Grossman, who also served as a member of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) from 1993 to 2001.

The prize, which will be presented here in November, was praised by a number of rights activists who noted that the RFK Center has a well-established reputation for maintaining material and political support for its awardees for many years after the honor is received.

"I think that this prize comes at an especially important moment because of the tremendous increase in human rights violations in the context of the drug war," said Laura Carlsen, the Mexico-based director of the Americas Program of the Center for International Policy.

"Last year, human rights groups reported a six-fold rise in complaints against the army, and the indigenous populations are suffering the most. They require the most vigilance from civil society," she added.

"The centre works in a very difficult and dangerous situation at the heart of one of the most marginalized communities in the country," said Maureen Meyer, a Mexico specialist at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), which gave the centre its annual human rights award last year...

In 2002, the centre brought the case of Inés Fernández and Valentina Rosendo, two indigenous women allegedly raped by soldiers in Guerrero in 2002, to the IACHR, which referred it to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which is set to hand down a sentence.

In 2005, it defended the right to education for people of two towns that had been abandoned by their overworked teaching staff for an entire year. After filing complaints with the Department of Education, lobbying state representatives, and gaining the attention of national and international media, the Centre succeeded in obtaining 14 state-appointed teachers and four additional classrooms.

In the same year, it launched a successful campaign to formally criminalize forced disappearances in Guerrero while carrying out numerous investigations that exposed military abuses, including torture, disappearance, rape of indigenous women, arbitrary detentions and interrogations, intimidation, and dispossession of lands.

It has also taken up the cases of two human rights defenders from the Organization of the Future of the Mixtec People who had been arrested and later found dead with signs of torture in February 2009. Those cases resulted in a new round of threats to centre staff which, in turn, spurred the IACHR to issue new protective orders.

The IACHR has issued more than 100 orders to protect human rights defenders in Guerrero.

The award "represents a shield, from an organization with great prestige, for a region that is terribly vulnerable and unprotected, and where human rights are a dead letter," Barrera told IPS. "It brings visibility to what the authorities wish would remain invisible. They don't want to see the tragedy, the poverty, the hunger."

"May justice flourish in the mountain, where it has been suffocated by impunity, by corruption, by endemic violence, and by the age-old neglect of the local peoples," he said...

Barrera: "We see the war on drugs in our state as a war against the poor; there is cruelty against the indigenous peoples that have been driven to plant poppies in ravines as a last measure to ensure their survival," he said.

Jim Lobe and Emilio Godoy

Inter Press Service (IPS)

Sep. 23, 2010

See also:

Added: Dec. 4, 2010

Mexico / The United States

Abel Barrera Hernandez speaks about his role in founding the Tlachinollan Human Rights Centre of the Montana in the state of Guerrero.

(In Spanish with English subtitles)

On YouTube,com

Sep. 23, 2010

See also:

Added: Dec. 4, 2010

Mexico / The United States

Mexico has failed to prosecute violations, reduce torture

The US government significantly strengthened its partnership with Mexico in combating organized crime in 2007 when it announced the Merida Initiative, a multi-year US security assistance package for Mexico. To date, the US government has allocated roughly $1.5 billion in Merida funding to Mexico. From the outset, the US Congress recognized the importance of ensuring that the Mexican government respect human rights in its public security efforts, mandating by law that 15 percent of select Merida funds be withheld until the State Department issued a report to the US Congress which showed that Mexico had demonstrated it was meeting four human rights requirements.

On September 2, 2010, the State Department issued its second report to Congress concluding that Mexico is meeting the Merida Initiative's human rights requirements, and it stated its intention to obligate roughly $36 million in security assistance that had been withheld from the 2009 supplemental and the 2010 omnibus budgets.

However, research conducted by our respective organizations, Mexico's National Human Rights Commission, and even the State Department's own reports, demonstrates conclusively that Mexico has failed to meet the four human rights requirements set out by law. As a result, Congress should not release these select Merida funds. Releasing these funds would send the message that the United States condones the grave human rights violations committed in Mexico, including torture, rape, killings, and enforced disappearances.

We recognize that Mexico is facing a severe public security crisis, and that the United States can play a constructive role in strengthening Mexico's ability to confront organized crime in an effective manner. However, human rights violations committed by Mexican security forces are not only deplorable in their own right, but also significantly undermine the effectiveness of Mexico's public security efforts...

Human Rights Watch

Sep. 14, 2010

See also:

Added: Dec. 4, 2010

Mexico

Time to Speak up on Military Abuse in Mexico

José Miguel Vivanco, Director - Americas Division - HRW

Human Rights Watch

May 17, 2010


Added: Dec. 4, 2010

Alabama, USA

North Alabama man convicted in sex trafficking of an underage girl

A 31-year-old Florence man was convicted today of sex trafficking involving an underage girl.

Manuel Enrique Zelaya-Rodriguez was also convicted in the trial in Huntsville of coercing a minor to engage in prostitution, harboring an illegal alien, and failing to file a report with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement about an illegal alien in his employment.

Zelaya--Rodriguez will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge C. Lynwood Smith in a Jan. 19 hearing in Huntsville. He could face a sentence of up to life in prison.

The case against Zelaya-Rodriguez began Sept. 8, 2009 when he was driving a car that was stopped by Florence police at a trailer park, according to court documents. An officer was responding to complaints about prostitution when he stopped the car.

Inside the car was a 15-year-old girl who told police that Zelaya-Rodriguez was prostituting her, according to court documents. Condoms and business cards were found inside the car.

The unidentified girl was born in Veracruz, Mexico, in September 1993, according to a trial memorandum from prosecutors. The girl became pregnant when she was 13 years old and later crossed the border into the U.S. "so that she could work and send money back to her mother to care for the victim's baby," according to the document.

The girl started work in Atlanta as a prostitute, but fled there after pimps became violent with her, according to the court document. The girl got the name of Zelaya-Rodriguez from another prostitute, according to the court document filed before the trial.

"The victim had been with the defendant for approximately two weeks, and during that time the victim had engaged in commercial sex acts with approximately forty and fifty men," according to the trial memorandum.

"We have shut down this particular trafficker and, hopefully, given pause to others who would commit the same morally reprehensible crime," U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance said in a press statement after the jury returned its verdict Wednesday.

"Human trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor is a growing problem in North Alabama and across the country and is a grave concern of the Department of Justice," she said. "We want a zero-tolerance policy on this crime."

Florence police, the FBI, and ICE investigated the case.

"The FBI is committed to working with ICE and our other law enforcement partners to combat human trafficking, which is modern day slavery, and bring to justice those who would deny individuals of their fundamental right to freedom," Patrick Maley, special agent in charge of the FBI's Birmingham office, said in the prepared statement.

Al.com

Sep. 22, 2010


Added: Dec. 4, 2010

California, USA

Man arrested in sex case involving Encinitas teen

Girl had made up story she was gang-raped; authorities say she had sex with 20-year-old she met on Internet

Encinitas - Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a 20-year-old Vista man who they say had sex with a 15-year-old Encinitas girl, authorities said Wednesday.

The teen initially told authorities she was raped by three men rather than admit to her mother she had gone off with a man she met on the Internet.

Jose Adrian Cano was arrested Tuesday night and booked on suspicion of unlawful intercourse with a minor, lewd acts with a 15-year-old, and contacting a minor online with intent to commit a sex crime.

Investigators say they have evidence of three more under-age victims and want any others to come forward to report contact with Cano.

He is being held in the Vista jail without bail because federal immigration authorities have put a hold on him. Lauren Mack, Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman, said Cano is listed in the agency’s records as Cano-Cid and is suspected of being in the United States illegally.

Mack said Cano was arrested earlier this year by a police agency in San Diego County and federal officials returned him to Mexico without a deportation hearing.

Pauline Repard

The San Diego Union-Tribune

Sep. 29, 2010

 


Added: Dec. 4, 2010

California, USA

Man Tries to Kidnap Teen Girl Walking to School

San Jacinto - Police in Riverside County are searching for a man who tried to kidnap a 15-year-old girl as she was walking to school.

The attempted kidnapping happened just after 6 a.m. Thursday on Lyon Avenue, south of Merlot Place, in San Jacinto.

Police say the suspect approached the girl from behind and grabbed her arm, but she was able to fight him off.

A passing driver saw the struggle and called 911, and the suspect ran from the area.

The suspect is described as a Hispanic man, about 19- or 20-years-old, and 5'9" tall. He has a thin build, short "spiked" brown hair and brown eyes. The man was last seen wearing blue jeans and a white t-shirt.

Anyone with information about the suspect is asked to call San Jacinto Police at 951-487-7368.

KTLA News

Oct. 1, 2010


Added: Oct. 1, 2010

Mexico

Outgoing director of Mexico's National Institute for Migration Cecilia Romero

Cecilia Romero sale de Migración

La funcionaria fue notificada que sería removida, por lo que elaboró una carta de despedida para sus colaboradores; en el último mes su posición en el cargo se vio debilitada por la masacre de 72 migrantes en Tamaulipas

El gobierno federal confirmó que Cecilia Romero dejó a partir de hoy el cargo como comisionada del Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM) luego de la matanza de 72 migrantes de distintas nacionalidades en el estado de Tamaulipas.

De acuerdo con fuentes gubernamentales, Romero fue notificada este lunes que sería removida de esa posición, por lo que la funcionaria elaboró una carta de despedida que circuló de manera interna en el INM por el sistema de intranet.

En el texto, Romero agradeció el "trabajo, saludo, apoyo y sonrisa" de sus colaboradores, con quienes se reunió por la mañana para revisar temas pendientes de la agenda migratoria y los exhortó a seguir adelante porque dicha labor no es una moda y parte de una época, sino de una institución, las cuales perduran por encima de las personas.

En agosto pasado un inmigrante de origen ecuatoriano acudió a una caseta naval para denunciar la ejecución de personas en un rancho ubicado en el estado de Tamaulipas, hecho que permitió conocer la noticia de 72 víctimas que habrían caído abatidas presuntamente a manos de los Zetas.

Funcionarios federales definirán en las próximas horas la vía institucional para dar a conocer el cambio de Romero, el cual puede formalizarse en Los Pinos o la Secretaría de Gobernación (Segob).

José Gerardo Mejía

El Universal

Sep. 14, 2010

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Added: Oct. 1, 2010

Mexico

Migration-Mexico: Crisis Sparked by Massacre Spurs Demands for In-depth Changes

Organizations working for the rights of undocumented immigrants are using the crisis triggered by the massacre of 72 migrants a few weeks ago near the U.S. border to press for in-depth changes in Mexico.

'The migration authorities do not have a human rights perspective, and their position is inconsistent with the reality of migration in this country,' Diana Martínez, assistant coordinator of advocacy at Sin Fronteras, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that promotes the rights of migrants and provides them with legal advice, told IPS.

The killing of the undocumented migrants from several Latin American countries, whose bound, blindfolded bodies were found Aug. 24 on a remote ranch in San Fernando, in the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, unleashed the worst ever migration-related crisis in this country.

The mass murder, which was survived by at least one man from Ecuador, one from Honduras and one from El Salvador, brought down National Migration Institute (INM) Commissioner Cecilia Romero, who resigned Tuesday Sept. 14.

Romero, a former senator for the governing National Action Party (PAN), had ridden out earlier rumors that she would leave the top job at the INM, which she held since December 2006. But the heat and pressure generated by the shocking event made her position untenable...

An estimated 500,000 Latin Americans a year cross Mexico heading for the United States, according to experts and NGOs. Along the way they face arbitrary arrest, extortion, robbery, rape and kidnapping, especially at the hands of Los Zetas, a criminal organization that dominates the kidnapping of undocumented migrants racket.

'The Mexican state must design a truly comprehensive state policy on migration that is not limited to managing migratory flows, but is centrally focused on the human rights of migrants,' said Martínez of Sin Fronteras...

Migrant protection organizations have urged the Mexican state to issue an official invitation to Felipe González, rapporteur on the rights of migrant workers and their families for the Washington-based Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), part of the Organisation of American States (OAS) human rights system.

In his March 2009 report, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Jorge Bustamante, recommended legislative reforms to combat the impunity surrounding human rights abuses in this country...

Emilio Godoy

Inter Press Service

Sep. 16, 2010

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Added: Oct. 1, 2010

Mexico

Mexican immigration official quits after massacre

Mexico - Mexico's top immigration official resigned Monday in the wake of a massacre of 72 migrants that exposed how brutally drug cartels have come to control human smuggling routes in the country.

Cecilia Romero stepped down as head of the National Institute of Migration, a post she had held since the beginning of President Felipe Calderon's term in December 2006, the Interior Department said in a statement.

The statement gave no reason for her resignation, only praising Romero's efforts to modernize the Mexico's immigration system and improve the treatment of migrants. It did not name her replacement.

A government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the issue, said the government was looking for someone with more experience in security to head the institute.

The official said the massacre three weeks ago highlighted how intertwined drug trafficking and illegal immigration have become in Mexico.

"She's revamped the institute and made it a more human and respectful place," the official said. "Given that organized crime has gotten into the business, we need a different type of head with a different type of background."

The bodies of the 72 Central and South American migrants were found Aug. 24 at a ranch about 100 miles (80 kilometers) south of Brownsville, Texas...

Drug cartels have long controlled migration corridors in Mexico, demanding that migrants pay for passage through their territory. Now, Mexican authorities say drug cartels are increasingly trying to recruit vulnerable migrants to smuggle drugs.

Romero, a former congresswoman who steadily rose up in Calderon's National Action Party, revamped migrant holding centers across the country and ensured that immigration agents were trained in human rights, the Interior Department said in its statement.

...The government has come under intense criticism for continuing abuses against migrants, who are constantly kidnapped and assaulted as they pass through Mexico — often with the collusion of corrupt police or immigration agents.

Hours before Romero's resignation was announced, Mexico's Congress summoned her to a hearing to explain what the government was doing to protect migrants.

Opposition legislators warned Mexico was losing its moral right to demand better treatment for immigrants in the United States.

The massacre "is the tip of the iceberg that revealed the neglect of Mexican authorities, who are incapable of meeting its responsibilities in human rights," said Sen. Ricardo Monreal Avila of the Workers' Party.

Alexandra Olson

The Associated Press

Sep. 14, 2010

See also:

Added: Oct. 1, 2010

Mexico

Romero leaves the INM

Mexico City – For reasons unknown, Cecilia Romero, commissioner of the National Migration Institute (INM), announced on Tuesday that she is leaving her job.

“Today is my last day as commissioner of the INM. I thank each and every one of you for your work, effort and participation during the transformation of the INM,” Romero said to INM members during her farewell message. She did not say whether she quit or was fired and did not give any reasons for leaving her position.

Her departure is taking place three weeks after the Navy found the bodies of 72 illegal immigrants in the state of Tamaulipas in northeastern Mexico. Romero recently said it was “natural” that there were several rumors of her leaving after the tragedy in Tamaulipas. “I think it is only natural that there are rumors like this when there is a crisis as big as this one, of national security and of organized crime,” she said...

The News

Sep. 15, 2010

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Added: Oct. 1, 2010

Mexico

Evalúa Segob trabajo de Romero en Migración

Mexico's Interior Department to investigate the work of National Institute for Migration director Cecilia Romero

La lupa está sobre migración despues de la masacre de 72 migrantes en Tamaulipas

El secretario de Gobernación, José Francisco Blake Mora, reveló que al interior de su dependencia están evaluando el trabajo de la titular de migración, Cecilia Romero.

Ante las versiones de que habría renunciado el encargado de la política interior del país, dijo que sólo están revisando como en todas las acciones del gobierno su actuación y en su momento vendrán definiciones

Entrevistado al participar en el IV Informe de Gobierno de Felipe Calderón, Blake Mora, dijo que se enfocará en la evaluación al trabajo de Cecilia Romero después de la masacre de 72 migrantes en Tamaulipas, hace unos días.

¿Se queda la titular de migración en su cargo?, se le preguntó

- Estamos revisando, estamos evaluando como en todas las acciones del gobierno que tienen que ser evaluadas, ya en su oportunidad tomaremos definiciones.

¿Para cuándo las conclusiones?

-Voy a trabajar y cuando las tenga seguramente se las informo.

El Universal

Sep. 02, 2010

See also:

Added: June 28, 2009

Mexico

Cecilia Romero, head of Mexico's national immigration service, says that sex tourism and pedophile networks are "inevitable."

"El turismo sexual es inevitable" - Cecilia Romero del Instituto Nacional de Migración de México

Photo: El Universal

LibertadLatina Commentary

President Calderón, the Human Rights Crisis at Mexico's Southern Border is Unacceptable

Our current series of articles covering the human rights emergency facing women and girl migrants at Mexico's southern border responds directly to the recent comments of Cecilia Romero, head of Mexico's national immigration service (the National Institute for Migration - INM).

Director Romero stated in a press interview with El Universal, a major Mexico City daily paper, that human trafficking is "inevitable", and that, "the existence of the smuggling of migrants, human trafficking, pedophile networks, and the kidnappings and the violence that affect thousands of migrants are only "evils of mankind" that Mexico cannot eradicate.

We strongly disagree with Director Romero and others in the leadership of Mexico's National Action Party, who habitually dismiss critical women's rights issues, including the femicide murders in Ciudad Juarez, as being the inevitable, and 'normal' results of male human behavior.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The citizens of Mexico, Mexico's Congress and the international community need to hold the government of President Felipe Calderón accountable for the fact that he is allowing a steady stream of  unending mass gender atrocities to occur on Mexico's southern border with Guatemala and Belize.

In that hell-on-earth, an estimated 450 to 600 migrant women and girls are sexually assaulted each day, according to the International Organization for Migration. Police response is almost non-existent. At times police officers are complicit in this criminal violence.

Mexico's southern border is also the largest zone on earth for the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), according to Save the Children.

As Father Luis Nieto states in an article about Salvadoran mothers who must come to Mexico's border to grieve for their raped and murdered daughters, "We cannot keep quiet, we cannot be complicit in this."

We strongly agree with that sentiment. Silence is also violence.

The federal government of Mexico is not ignorant in regard to this ongoing human catastrophe. The United Nations, the International Organization for Migration, Save the Children, elements of the Catholic Church, the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) and many members of Congress have, for the past several years, demanded action to end these atrocities.

Although INM director Cecilia Romero promised in February of 2007 that she would "entirely eliminate this terrible situation," no visible action has been taken to do so as of June of 2009, 16 months after she made that promise.

With the current economic slowdown and the expansion of global criminal sex trafficking operations, the rapes, kidnappings and brutal sexual enslavement of innocent migrants on that border is increasing with no end in sight.

As the United States Congress prepares to send over $400 million dollars in largely military aid to Mexico as part of the Merida Initiative to combat the drug cartels, we insist that human rights conditions be placed on those and other U.S. foreign aid funds that are headed to Mexico.

Mexico must close down the mass rape,  kidnapping, murder and child sex trafficking gauntlet that exists with total impunity on its southern border.

We also want to see the estimated 4,000 mostly Mayan indigenous children who were kidnapped by the Yakuza mafias from this region and sold to brothels in Tokyo, and also the uncounted thousands of other indigenous child victims who have been sold to brothels in New York and Madrid rescued, repatriated and then truly cared for.

Do you need money, President Calderón, to get these things done? Or is a misogynist, 'socially conservative' ideology that is resurgent in Mexico, and that has as its strongest voice the PAN political party, the real problem here?

¡Esta barbarie no será perdonado por Dios!

This barbarity will not be pardoned by God!

If Mexico does not have control over this part of its own territory, or if, as actually appears to  be the case, the PAN's socially conservative agenda won't allow it to defend innocent and vulnerable women and children in crisis, consistent with their apathetic reaction to the femicide murders in Ciudad Juarez, then perhaps an international force organized by the Organization of American States, or by the United Nations needs to step up to the plate, offer to help Mexico, and take control of the situation.

This crisis in Mexico is the best example in the Americas of why a new Global Plan of Action, as proposed by Ecuadorian Minister of Justice and Human Rights (Attorney General) Néstor Arbito Chica and diplomats gathered at the United Nations on May 13, 2009, is needed to get around this impasse.

Somehow, the fact that the government of Mexico is a signatory to the Palermo Protocol, and the fact that Mexico passed its 2009 U.S. Department of State Trafficking in Persons Report evaluation with a relatively positive Level 2 Rating (as we also acknowledge State's strong critique of corruption in Mexico), misses the point.

New and out-of-the box strategies are needed to oblige Mexico to fulfill its international obligations to end this ongoing mass gender atrocity once and for all.

It is not an impossible task.

The status quo today is... unacceptable!

End impunity now!

Chuck Goolsby

LibertadLatina

June 28, 2009

Updated Oct. 2, 2010

See also:

Mexico

The city of Tapachula, located in Chiapas state near Mexico's border with Guatemala, is one of the largest and most lawless child sex trafficking markets in all of Latin America.

Our news section on Tapachula tracks  events related to this hell-on-earth, where over half of the estimated 21,000 sex slaves and other sex workers are underage, and where especially migrant women and girls  from Central and South America, who seek to migrate to the United States, have their freedom taken from them, to become a money-making commodity for gangs of violent criminals.

A 2007 study by the international organization ECPAT [End Child Prostitution and Trafficking]... revealed that over 21,000 Central Americans, mostly children, are prostituted in 1,552 bars and brothels in Tapachula.

- Chuck Goolsby

LibertadLatina


Added: Oct. 1, 2010

Mexico

La trata de personas no se persigue en el país. Apenas seis entidades

Gobiernos soslayan la trata de personas

...La trata de personas no se persigue en el país. Apenas seis entidades —Chiapas, Distrito Federal, Nuevo León, Tabasco y Tlaxcala, además de Hidalgo que ayer la aprobó—, tienen legislación sobre la materia. El resto a excepción de Campeche y Tamaulipas tipificaron el delito en sus códigos penales. Sin embargo, sólo 12 estados cuentan con una legislación armonizada con el Protocolo de Palermo.

Organismos civiles ubican a Puebla y Tlaxcala dentro de los cinco principales “corredores” de traslado de personas que son explotadas sexual y laboralmente. Se estima que de 60 municipios que integran el estado de Tlaxcala en al menos 26 se han establecido redes de tratantes.

Government overlooks modern slavery

Human trafficking is not being fought in Mexico

Tenancingo [a major city in Tlaxcala state] - The streets here are different from those in any other region of rural Tlaxcala state. The city's population does not live by farming, nor do they live in humble dwellings. From the time you enter the city, the air is tense. The ostentatious two-to-four floor houses become immediately visible.

Luxury Mustangs, Corvettes and Dodge trucks with tinted windows line the cobblestone streets. Chatting with people is almost impossible for outsiders. Locals immediately know who is a stranger. They seem to alert everyone about the presence of outsiders. The Lenones [family based sex trafficking mafias] are there. At Noon they stop to eat pork quesadillas. It's their territory.

About 30 miles south of Tlaxcala, in the city of Puebla, two men descend from a fancy Mustang blaring reggaeton music. Their imposing presence makes it hard to look at them face-to-face. Each of them is wearing three gold chains and sportswear made by international companies.

The municipal police look at them with the familiarity that is just part of the daily rhythm of life. The same is true of the mothers of children returning to school. The locals are watched and subdued. Within minutes, a group of students questions the reason for my visit. They say that it would be better for me to leave their neighborhood in the company of the Mexican Army troops stationed nearby.

On Wednesday night, federal forces besieged a residential street in the City, presumably in search of a sexual exploitation network. The outcome of their effort is unknown. There were no arrests. Seven soldiers without identifying clothing remain on guard outside the house. They call upon the reporters present to leave. They claim that "no operation ever took place," and say that in Tenancingo, "everything is normal," although the place is known internationally as a center for sex trafficking.

Human trafficking is not being pursued in this country. Only the Federal District [Mexico City] and six states, Chiapas,  Nuevo León, Tabasco, Tlaxcala and Hidalgo have passed legislation to govern human trafficking. The remaining states, with the exception of Campeche and Tamaulipas, have specified the crime in their penal codes. However, only 12 states have harmonized their state legislation with the Palermo Protocol.

Non-governmental organizations located in Puebla and Tlaxcala call the region one of the top five "corridors" in Mexico for trafficking in persons who are exploited for sex and labor. It is estimated that human trafficking networks operate in at least 26 of the 60 municipalities in the state of Tlaxcala....

Tlaxcala ranks sixth nationally in human trafficking as a result of its environment of violence, a lax criminal justice system and poor security. Puebla state holds 5th place...

El Universal

Sep. 24, 2010


Added: Sep. 29, 2010

Mexico

Officials from Mexico's Chiapas state, together with the IOM, launch a major media campaign against human trafficking

Emprenden Gobierno de Chiapas y OIM campaña contra la trata de personas

Con el objetivo de proteger a los grupos más vulnerables, el gobierno de Chiapas, a través de la Secretaría para el Desarrollo de la Frontera Sur y Enlace para la Cooperación Internacional, une esfuerzos a la Organización Internacional para las Migraciones para combatir la trata de personas mediante una amplia campaña mediática.

Siendo Chiapas un estado de tránsito de migrantes, es prioritario que ellos sepan que hacerlo indocumentadamente no es sinónimo de indefensión, sino por el contrario, en Chiapas se comprende el sentido de su viaje en búsqueda de una mejora calidad de vida y la vulnerabilidad con la que lo efectúan. Es por eso que el gobierno de Chiapas, encabezado por Juan Sabines Guerrero, trabaja en transformar la frontera sur de México en una frontera amiga y de oportunidades y que no escatima esfuerzos en llevarlo a cabo.

Bajo el slogan “No permitas que destruyan tu vida”, se lanza el día de hoy una ambiciosa campaña en medios masivos como la televisión y radio, así como espectaculares, pantallas de proyección, material impreso e internet, con lo que se pretende concientizar a la ciudadanía de que la trata de personas es evitable y se combate con la denuncia; además de que tengan la seguridad de que recibirán todo el apoyo, asistencia y protección en caso de ser víctimas de este flagelo. Es importante destacar que la parte medular de la campaña se concentra en la posibilidad de hacer una denuncia anónima y sin costo al 018007152000...

The state government of Chiapas and the International Organization for Migration launch media campaign against human trafficking

Seeking to protect the most vulnerable groups in society, the government of the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, through its Secretary for the Development of the Southern Frontier and its Network for International Cooperation, has joined forces with the [United Nations affiliated] International Organization for Migration to present a new and large scale media campaign to educate the public about the dangers of human trafficking.

Given that Chiapas state is a [major] transit point for migrants [it is the bottleneck point for almost all Central and South American migration to the U.S.], the campaign's priority to let migrants know that their state of being undocumented does not mean that they are defenseless. To the contrary, the campaign stated, Chiapas understands the motives that cause people to migrate in search of a better life, as well as the vulnerabilities that go along with migration. For these reasons, the government of Chiapas state, headed by governor Juan Sabines Guerrero, is dedicating significant resources to achieve the goal of transforming the southern border of Mexico into a friendly frontier of opportunities.

Using the slogan "Don't Allow Them to Destroy Your Life," the ambitious media campaign is being launched today through public service advertising on television, radio, and through materials presented at major public events and on the Internet. The campaign will raise public awareness about human trafficking, and will drive home the point that becoming a victim of trafficking is avoidable. The campaign emphasizes that victims will receive every form of assistance and protection. An anonymous hotline, at telephone number 018007152000, has also been opened...

Diario Chiapas Hoy

Sep. 27, 2010


Added: Sep. 29, 2010

India

Human trafficking slur on Commonwealth Games

The jinxed Commonwealth Games could have done without this. After being troubled by brittle infrastructure, CWG 2010 has now been blamed for a jump in trafficking of women and children from the Northeast. The accusation has come from Meghalaya People’s Human Rights Council (MPHRC) general secretary Dino D.G. Dympep. The platform he chose on Tuesday was the general debate discussion on racism, discrimination, xenophobia and other intolerance at the 15th Human Rights Council Session at the UN headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

“The human rights situation of indigenous peoples living in Northeast India is deteriorating,” Dympep said, adding New Delhi has chose to be indifferent to human trafficking of and racial discrimination toward these indigenous groups.

“What worries the indigenous peoples now apart from racial and gender-based violence is the fear of alleged human trafficking for flesh trade.” The number of indigenous women and children trafficked particularly for the upcoming CGW could be 15,000, he said.

The rights activist also underscored the racial profiling of people from the Northeast on the basis of their ethnicity, linguistic, religious, cultural and geographical backgrounds.

Dympep also pointed out 86 per cent of indigenous peoples studying or working away from their native places face racial discrimination in various forms such as sexual abuses, rapes, physical attacks and economic exploitation.

“The UN has condemned India's caste system and termed it worse than racism. The racism faced by indigenous peoples of the Northeast is definitely the outcome of the caste system. Such negative attitude as ignoring the region will only lead to deeper self-alienation by the indigenous peoples, which comes in the way of integration in India,” he said.

Rahul Karmakar

Hindustan Times

Sep. 28, 2010

LibertadLatina Note:

Indigenous peoples across the world face the problem of being marginalized by the dominant societies that surround them. They become the easiest targets for human traffickers because the larger society will not stand up to defend their basic human rights. Exploiting the lives and the sexuality of indigenous women is a key aspect of this dynamic of oppression.

We at LibertadLatina denounce all forms of exploitation. We call the world's attention to the fact that tens of thousands of indigenous peoples in the Americas, and most especially women and girls in Guatemala and Mexico, are routinely being kidnapped or cajoled into becoming victims of human trafficking.

For 5 centuries, the economies of Latin America have relied upon the forced labor and sexual exploitation of the region's indigenous peoples as a cornerstone of their economic and social lives. Mexico, with an indigenous population that comprises 30% of the nation, is a glaring example of this dynamic of racial, ethnic and gender (machismo) based oppression. In Mexico, indigenous victims are not 'visible' to the authorities, and are on nobody's list of social groups who need to be assisted to defend themselves against the criminal impunity of the sex and labor trafficking mafias.

For Mexico to arrive in the 21st Century community of nations, it must begin the process of ending these feudal-era traditions.

End impunity now!

Chuck Goolsby

LibertadLatina

Sep. 30/Oct. 02, 2010


Added: Sep. 29, 2010

Oregon, USA

Police warn of man exposing himself near Portland school

Portland - A man was spotted exposing himself near a Southeast Portland school Monday morning and now police are warning people to beware of the lurking sex offender.

“A subject was observed openly masturbating in his vehicle parked near Southeast 26th Avenue and Grant Street in view of the public. Four female students from Hosford Middle School walked past his vehicle on their way to school and he soon started his car, followed them for about a block and pulled over next to them as if to make contact with them while still masturbating,” said Lt. Kelli Sheffer with the Portland Police Bureau.

Then, just a few minutes later, Sheffer said the suspect contacted a different female student in the same area, telling her he liked her shirt.

At one point, the man got out of the car and walked after a student, police said.

The suspect was described as a Hispanic man in his 20's to late 30's, about 5'2 and 150 pounds, with very short dark hair, wearing a light-colored shirt and dark pants or jeans. Police said his head was almost shaved and he had a mustache and a goatee.

His vehicle was described as an older model, white 4-door smaller car, possibly a Pontiac, with a dent on one of the front fenders, possibly black wheels and black bumpers, with black scratches on the rear passenger side fender.

Anyone with information about the suspect was urged to call 9-1-1.

Teresa Blackman

KGW

Sep. 28, 2010


Added: Sep. 29, 2010

California, USA

Man Arrested for Peeping in School Bathroom

Covina - Police have arrested a suspect accused of peeping at a student in a bathroom stall at Las Palmas Middle School in Covina.

The suspect, who told police his name was Cristian Estrada Diaz, was arrested Tuesday morning. His fingerprints, however, identified him as Juan Hernandez, 31, according to Covina Sgt. Dave Foster. Detectives are trying to determine his true identity.

Foster says the man is a Covina resident. He does not speak English and had no identification on him, according to Foster.

The man was arrested on suspicion of making contact with a minor with intent to commit a sexual act.

The suspect is accused of entering the girls' bathroom on Friday and crawling on his knees under a bathroom stall to spy on a girl. He ran when another student walked in and noticed him. He fled on a blue bike...

Detectives are trying to figure out if the man is responsible for other similar cases in the area.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Covina Police Department at (626) 384-5808.

KTLA

Sep. 28, 2010



We present full bilingual coverage of the Second Latin American Congress on Human Trafficking



Added: Sep. 28, 2010

Mexico

Buscaremos romper el cerco de los “guardianes del patriarcado”

El delito de trata de personas es tan complejo, que el discutir próximamente sobre el acceso a la justicia y restitución de derechos para las víctimas, permitirá a quienes estamos luchando contra éste, homogeneizar criterios y exigir con mejores herramientas a las autoridades judiciales de Latinoamericana, que cumplan con la ley.

La directora Regional de la Coalición contra la Trata y Tráfico de Mujeres y Niñas en América Latina y el Caribe, Asociación Civil (CATW-LAC), Teresa Ulloa Ziaurriz, dijo a Cimacnoticias que la complejidad del delito de trata, ha impedido su tipificación, y por ende demostrarlo, para lograr sentenciar a los proxenetas.

Al cierre del II Congreso Latinoamericano contra la Trata y Tráfico de Personas: Migración, Género y Derechos Humanos que se realizó en esta ciudad, dijo que una vez que ya se conoce la agenda del próximo Congreso a efectuarse en Perú en 2012; el intercambio de ideas entre la academia, organizaciones de la sociedad civil e incluso con autoridades, generará ideas más claras sobre cómo resolver la problemática.

Reconoció que en América Latina se ha avanzado en la elaboración de leyes, pero no se ha logrado que sean efectivas, que haya sentencias, “ y yo coincido con lo que dicen las españolas que los jueces son los guardianes más celosos del patriarcado y eso es lo que tenemos que romper”, aseguró...

We Seek to Break the Ring of the Guardians of Patriarchy

The crime of human trafficking is hugely complex. Therefore, during the next Congress on Human Trafficking in Latin America, to be held in Lima, Peru in 2012, the event will focus its attentions on developing strategies to resolve one of the largest problems that we face, gaining access to equal justice and restitution for victims. The 2012 Congress will allow those who are fighting against modern human slavery to collaborate to create a common legal framework to address human trafficking and  to demand improved legal tools from Latin America's judicial institutions. The Congress will also insist that the region's governments must comply with the laws governing these crimes.

Teresa Ulloa Ziaurriz, director of the Coalition Against Trafficking of Women and Girls for Latin America and the Caribbean (CATW-LAC) [and a veteran women's rights lawyer in Mexico], told the CIMAC News that the complexity of this crime has impeded its classification [in the criminal code] and use in sentencing traffickers and pimps.

At the close of the Second Congress on Human Trafficking, Migration, Gender and Human Rights, held from Sep. 21 to 24, 2010 in Puebla, Mexico, Ulloa declared that once the agenda for the 2012 Congress is determined, the mechanisms will be in place that will allow for an exchange of ideas between academics, civil society and government officials, to generate clear strategies in regard to what needs to be done to effectively address this problem.

Ulloa recognized that laws have advanced across Latin America. However those laws are not enforced, resulting in a lack of the actual sentencing of convicted traffickers. Ulloa, "I agree with the what people say in Spain, that judges are the most jealous guardians of patriarchy. That [ring of power - old boy's club] is what we have to break through..."

Elizabeth Muñoz Vásquez

CIMAC Women's News Service

Sep. 27, 2010


Added: Sep. 26, 2010

Mexico

Dr. Raquel Pastor, the Academic Secretary of the Second Latin American Congress on Human Trafficking, in a photo from an earlier anti-trafficking press conference

Condena unánime contra migración forzada y aumento de trata en AL

Pronunciamiento del II Congreso Latinoamericano sobre trata

Puebla, Puebla - Con una condena a las autoridades de Puebla, México y Latinoamérica, que han reprimido a aquellas personas que se atreven a denunciar y combatir el delito de trata, y a la masacre de los migrantes centroamericanos ejecutados hace unas semanas en San Fernando, Tamaulipas, concluyó aquí el II Congreso Latinoamericano sobre Trata y Tráfico de Personas: Migración, Género y Derechos Humanos.

Raquel Pastor, Secretaria Académica del Segundo Congreso y representante del Centro de Estudios Sociales y Culturales Antonio Montesinos AC de México, al dar lectura al pronunciamiento precisó que las y los integrantes al evento condenan “los hechos que violentan los derechos humanos, la migración forzada, el aumento de casos de trata en la región”.

Demandamos, dijo, las investigaciones correspondientes exhaustivas para que los crímenes de Tamaulipas, no queden en la impunidad y sean restituidos los derechos de las familias de las víctimas.

De igual manera dijo, “condenamos también los actos represivos y de persecución en contra de aquellas personas que se atreven a denunciar, como los que llevan a cabo algunos gobernantes en Puebla, México y Latinoamérica para acallar y encubrir la vulneración de los derechos de las niñas víctimas de explotación sexual...

Second Latin American Congress on Human Trafficking concludes with a unanimous condemnation of forced migration and slavery in Latin America

Puebla city in Puebla state – The Second Latin American Congress on Human Trafficking ended four days of events today by condemning government authorities in Puebla State [Mexico], in Mexico itself as well as among governments across Latin America for repressing those persons who have dared to speak up about, combat and report cases of human trafficking. In addition, the Congress also deplored the recent massacre of 72 Central and South American migrants in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas.

Dr. Raquel Pastor, the Academic Secretary of the Second Congress and a representative of the Antonio Montesinos Center for Social and Cultural Studies of Mexico, declared that the participants in the Congress “denounce ongoing events that violently deny human rights, including forced migration and the increase in human trafficking cases in the region.”

We demand, she said, exhaustive investigations into the massacre in Tamaulipas, so that this crime does not remain unchallenged, and so that the rights of the victim’s families are restored.

Equally, Dr. Pastor stated, “we also condemn the acts of repression and persecution that have been taken against those persons who have dared to report trafficking cases, such as those that have been perpetrated by government officials across Latin America, including in Puebla state, Mexico [see the Lydia Cacho case], in their efforts to cover-up and silence the sexual exploitation of girl [and women] victims.

Dr. Pastor underlined the fact that the participants in the Congress are speaking-up to pressure the nations of Latin America to reform and modernize their criminal justice systems, so that the definition-of and persecution-of trafficking crimes become focused on protecting the dignity of girls, boys, adolescents and women.

Dr. Pastor asked that academic investigations be undertaken with the participation of civil society and government entities to allow for the development of a body of knowledge about trafficking, as well as to support the development of public policies and protocols that will result in actions and criminal investigations that focus on those who suffer as victims of these crimes.

Dr. Pastor stated - 'We demand these nations address the proposals and the body of experience that non-governmental organizations bring to the table, and that they adopt the best practices that NGOs have developed in the fields of preventing trafficking, and attending to the needs of victims. We especially call-upon Chile and Paraguay to pass laws against human trafficking, given that they are the only nations in Latin America not to have done so.'

The Congress also expressed its support for organizations in Puebla and Tlaxcala states, who have developed the Agenda for the Protection of Women and Girls Against Human Trafficking, and who are demanding punishment for elected and other officials at all levels of government who have benefited from human trafficking activities.

The creation of a Latin American 'Observatory' [think tank] for Human Trafficking was announced, with the goal of creating a center that will allow for the analysis of anti-trafficking efforts being carried out across the nations of the region.

The Congress will also create a web site, a system of statistical indicators, and will create spaces to allow for dialog and reflection among participants before and after each Congress.

The Third Latin American Congress on Human Trafficking will take place in Lima, Peru in 2012. The themes will be: “Access to Justice and the Restitution of Rights.”

Oscar Castro Soto, director of the Ignacio Ellacuria Human Rights Institute at the Ibero-American University in Puebla, stated that some 600 persons attended the Second Congress. Two hundred fifty presentations were make by subject matter experts, and 7 sessions by keynote speakers were presented.

Elizabeth Muñoz Vasquez

CIMAC Women's News Agency

Sep. 24, 201-


Added: Sep. 26, 2010

Haiti

Haitian Women at Increased Risk of Trafficking

Puebla, Mexico - The January earthquake that devastated Haiti put women and girls in the poorest country in the hemisphere at an increased risk of falling prey to people trafficking, activists and experts warn.

"The phenomenon has become much more visible since the earthquake, with the increase in the forced displacement of persons," said Bridget Wooding, a researcher who specializes in immigration at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO) in the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti.

"There is huge vulnerability to a rise in human trafficking and smuggling," she told IPS.

The Dominican Republic and the United States are the main destinations for Haitian migrants. The figures vary, but there are between 500,000 and 800,000 Haitians and people of Haitian descent in the U.S. and between one and two million in the Dominican Republic.

Women in Haiti "are exposed to forced prostitution, rape, abandonment and pornography," Mesadieu Guylande, a Haitian expert with the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Latin America and the Caribbean (CATW-LAC), told IPS.

The situation in Haiti was one of the issues discussed by representatives of NGOs, experts and academics from throughout the region at the Second Latin American Conference on Human Smuggling and Trafficking, which ran Tuesday through Friday in Puebla, 130 km south of Mexico City.

The 7.0-magnitude quake that hit the Haitian capital on Jan. 12 and left a death toll of at least 220,000 forced tens of thousands of people to live in camps...

"We have evidence of a growth in trafficking and smuggling of persons, which is reflected in the increase in the number of children panhandling in the streets of Santo Domingo, for example," said Wooding, co-author of the 2004 book "Needed but Not Wanted", on Haitian immigration in the Dominican Republic.

The author was in Port-au-Prince when the quake hit.

Even before the disaster, some 500,000 children were not attending school in Haiti, a country of around 9.5 million people, Guylande said.

Since 2007, there have been no convictions in the Dominican Republic under Law 137-03 against trafficking and smuggling, passed in 2003, according to the U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons Report 2009.

As a result, the State Department reported that the government of the Dominican Republic "does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking" and put the country on its Tier 2 Watch List.

In Haiti, things are no different. Although the government ratified the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, in force since Sept. 29, 2003, it has failed to implement its provisions in national laws.

"The penal system is fragile and the judiciary is neither independent nor trustworthy, a situation that works in favor of traffickers," Guylande said...

Emilio Godoy

Inter-Press Service (IPS)

Sep. 24, 2010


Added: Sep. 26, 2010

Mexico

Puebla, entre los estados que más producen pornografía infantil, informa una ONG

México ocupa el primer lugar de América Latina en la producción y distribución de pornografía infantil, principalmente hacia Estados Unidos, España y países de Oriente Medio, señaló ayer Mayra Rojas Rosas, representante de la Organización Infancia Común, durante el Segundo Congreso Latinoamericano sobre Trata y Tráfico de Personas que se realiza en la Universidad Iberoamericana.

Los estados con más casos de trata infantil, puntualizó, son: Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Nuevo León, Guerrero, Quintana Roo, Veracruz, Distrito Federal, Tlaxcala y Puebla. “La gente cree que sólo son fotos o que sólo es un video, pero eso daña y los daña para siempre porque a veces son relaciones reales y otras simuladas, pero esos niños están siendo trastocados en su integridad y están siendo sometidos a una serie de experiencias que no tiene que sufrir un niño o un adolescente”, declaró.

Puebla – among the states with the highest rate of producing child pornography – NGO

Mayra Rojas Rosas, director of the non-governmental organization Common Infancy, declared at the Second Latin American Congress on Human Trafficking that Mexico occupies first place among Latin American nations in the production and distribution of child pornography. She noted that most of these illicit materials are destined to be sold in the United States, Spain and in Middle Eastern nations.

Rojas Rosas added that the states with the highest levels of the production of child pornography are Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon, Guerrero, Quintana Roo, Veracruz, the Federal District [Mexico City], Tlaxala and Puebla. “People think that it is only a video, but participating in child pornography damages the lives of the victims forever. Some of the scenes are simulated, and some are real, but the integrity of these children is being disrupted. They are being subjected to a series of experiences that no child or adolescent should have to suffer through.

During a press conference on the subject, Rojas Rosas lamented the fact that human trafficking is being transformed into a business that is larger and more easily sold than narcotics. In response, she said, the only way to fight this crime is through cooperation and a demand that the problem be made ‘visible.’

“We are not talking about a problem of persecution here. We are talking about the need to engage in construction. We must change legislation and generate spaces to provide for an integral attention to the victims of trafficking, so that they are given a chance to develop a different type of life. The state must assume part of the responsibility, because at times, due to presumed acts of complicity and omission, we have had problems,” said Rojas Rosas.

In a separate press conference, Helen Le Goff, a representative of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Mexico, called upon authorities to investigate and castigate trafficking cases based upon their own sources of information, without waiting for a formal complaint to be filed by a victim (victim complaint initiation is generally required by Mexican law before a police investigation may be carried out).

During her presentation at the Congress, Le Goff mentioned that studies conducted by Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) estimate that each year, 20,000 persons are victims of human trafficking, principally in tourist cities and in frontier regions. Most victims are illegal immigrants, who have migrated from some 13 nations, including Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Le Goff, “In addition to the 60% of victims who experience labor trafficking, an additional 40% were victims of sex trafficking.”

Le Goff concluded by stating that the the IOM is launching a campaign called “No más trata de personas” [No more Human Trafficking] in the cities of Ciudad Juarez and Tapachula. The project is being developed in collaboration with the the CNDH. The project’s goal is to educate the public about the risks of irregular migration and human trafficking.

Arturo Alfaro Galán

La Jornada de Oriente

Sep. 24, 2010


Added: Sep. 26, 2010

Mexico

Giovanni, a nine-year-old girl who lives in the violent Mexico City neighborhood of Penitenciaria

Photo:Daniela Pastrana / IPS

Gender Violence Hits Behind the News

Mexico City - Amalia is an indigenous Maya girl from a rural community in southern Quintana Roo, on Mexico's Caribbean coast. She is 11 years old, and in August became the youngest mother in the country when she gave birth to a baby girl, 51 cm long and just under three kg.

Amalia was raped when she was 10, allegedly by her stepfather. She did not have the option of terminating the pregnancy because by the time it emerged that she was pregnant it was too late for a legal abortion.

Her case highlights the government's failures in dealing with violence against girls, a phenomenon that is overlooked due to the many other types of violence plaguing Mexico, such as the epidemic of drug-related murders, and the human rights violations attributed to the military and police.

Amalia "represents an accumulation of social exclusions: she is female, a child, indigenous and poor," Juan Martín Pérez, executive director of the Network for Children's Rights in Mexico, which brings together more than 50 pro-child organizations, told TerraViva.

"It took more than 20 years for me to admit what had happened. It's something that you never forgive; you just learn to live with it," a 35-year-old professional from Mexico City told TerraViva. She was sexually abused by an uncle when she was Amalia's age.

In this Latin American country of 108 million people, there are 18.4 million boys and 17.9 million girls under 18. Violence against children occurs in one-third of households, despite the many institutions across the country entrusted with protecting their well-being.

A UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund) study ranked Mexico second for mistreatment of children, after Portugal, among the 33 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The mortality rate attributed to this phenomenon is 30 deaths for every million minors.

According to UNICEF, a large portion of this physical, sexual and psychological violence and neglect remains hidden, and is sometimes socially accepted.

And while this crime is underreported, there is even less information about the differences in mistreatment based on gender. "There is a statistical invisibility that prevents us from getting a clear picture of the problem," said Pérez.

Several recent studies provide isolated data for an incomplete puzzle. For example, the latest National Survey on Health and Nutrition reports six pregnancies for every 1,000 girls ages 12 to 15, and 101 per 1,000 for ages 16 to 17.

In Quintana Roo, the state's secretary of health, Juan Carlos Azueta, said that in 2009 5,500 adolescent pregnancies were reported, 16 percent of which were the result of rape -- a proportion in line with the national average.

"I love my daughter, but I've never known how to deal with her. She exasperates me, and I'm often unfair to her," admitted Gloria, a mother of three girls, whose eldest was born after she was raped at the age of 15 by a married man.

"There is something in her that reminds me of how I got pregnant, and nobody taught me how to be a mother or how to deal with this memory inside," said the abusive mother, who lives in Atizapán, on the outskirts of Mexico City.

"La infancia cuenta" (Childhood Counts / 2009), a web-based monitoring tool and publication by the Network for Children's Rights in Mexico dedicated to girls, states "there are specific groups of females who are marginalized from the educational system," such as adolescent mothers or disabled or indigenous girls and adolescents.

According to Mexico's National Institute on Statistics and Geography, 180,500 adolescent mothers, ages 12 to 18, have not completed their basic education. Girls have higher school attendance rates than boys until age 16, when the balance starts to tip, in part due to early pregnancy.

"At 15, I ran away from home with the man who is now the father of my children, but things went even worse for me," Citatli, now 45 and a grandmother, told TerraViva. She lives in a low-income neighborhood in the eastern part of the Mexico City metropolitan area.

She had two children by the time she was 17, "and the younger one was born prematurely after I was beaten," she said. "I have always been surrounded by violence. From my mother, my brothers, my first husband, and now from my children." Her only hope is that her five grandchildren "don't turn out like that."

In Mexico, violent acts against girls, adolescents and women are based on a social construction that assumes males are superior, several sources consulted by TerraViva agreed.

"We've made some limited progress, with a federal law (against gender violence) and local laws in all states, but we haven't seen fundamental changes," said Axela Romero, director of Integral Health for Women. "A culture in which masculine is put above feminine prevails."

Giovanni, a nine-year-old girl who lives in the violent Mexico City neighborhood of Penitenciaria, knows all about that. She has what is traditionally a boy's name because when her mother was about to give birth to her firstborn son, she lost the pregnancy due to "a fright" when the father got involved in a fight. So the name went to the little girl, when she was born.

"I hate violence, and I hate it even more when the men drink," Giovanni told TerraViva.

Years of gruesome unsolved murders of women -- known as "femicides" -- put Ciudad Juárez, on Mexico's northern border, on the global map. At least 800 women have been tortured and murdered in the last 16 years, according to incomplete official data.

Meanwhile, in some Mexican states, the laws are tougher on women who undergo abortions than on the rapists who impregnated them.

According to government surveys, more than 60 percent of male adolescents believe it is solely the responsibility of the woman to take precautions against pregnancy, and at least one-fifth of students have witnessed incidents at their schools, off in a corner, where one or more boys inappropriately touched a girl without her consent.

But those incidents, like other forms of aggression against girls, are likewise abandoned in a corner.

*This story was originally published by IPS TerraViva with the support of UNIFEM and the Dutch MDG3 Fund.

Daniela Pastrana

Inter Press Service (IPS) / TerraViva

Sep. 21, 2010


Added: Sep. 26, 2010

Mexico

Bicentennial Nothing to Celebrate, Say Indigenous Peoples

Mexico City - "I don't understand why we should celebrate [Independence]. There will be no freedom in Mexico until repression against indigenous peoples is eliminated," says Sadhana, whose name means "moon" in the indigenous Mazahua language.

Over the course of the year, the Mexican government has organized a series of lavish celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of the start of the war of independence against the Spanish Empire, Sep. 16, 1810. The main events, held Sep. 15, included a military parade with soldiers from several other countries and a fireworks display.

But to many of Mexico's indigenous peoples, the festivities are an alien concept.

According to indigenous organizations, at least a third of Mexico's 108 million people are of native descent. But the government's National Council on Population says the majority of Mexicans are mestizo (of mixed European and indigenous ancestry), while 14 million belong to one of the country's 62 native groups.

"There is no birth certificate or other official document that says we are indigenous. The official calculations are based on the census that asks just one question about this: if you speak an indigenous language. That is the only element they use to define who is indigenous," said Julio Atenco Vidal, of the Regional Coordinator of Sierra de Zongolica Indigenous Organisations, in the southeastern state of Veracruz.

"Furthermore, there are many who say they are not indigenous, because it is associated with backwardness," he told IPS.

Registered by her Mazahua parents with the name "Daleth Ignacio Esquivel," Sadhana, 14, participates in a dance group of Mexica origin. They promote the recovery of their ancestral language among youths in San Miguel, a town in the central state of Mexico.

In the latest census of population and housing, conducted in May and June, the question about personal ethnic identification was added...

Of all the segments of the population, indigenous women have the worst living conditions, according to the National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples. These women suffer serious health problems resulting from nutritional deficiencies and high birth rates.

From childhood, indigenous girls are obligated to help their mothers. They tend to marry between ages 13 and 16. And their "normal" workday can last 18 hours daily.

Meanwhile, illiteracy among indigenous children is five times greater than among mestizo children.

An extreme case of indigenous exclusion is found in San Juan Copala, in the southern state of Oaxaca, home of the Triqui community, which declared itself "autonomous" in 2007. The Triqui people have been under siege since January by illegal armed groups that block the entry of food and medicine, and teachers. Governmental authorities have yet to intervene.

The ongoing harassment has led to at least a dozen deaths since 2007 and earned a denunciation from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights. In April, the armed groups ambushed an international humanitarian convoy that was attempting to bring supplies to the Triqui village.

"We are celebrating the construction of a type of stratified and racist state, which is what has been created in Mexico, often based on liberal ideas," said Rodolfo Stavenhagen, a researcher at the Colegio de México and former UN special rapporteur on the situation of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples.

"Now is a good time to reform the concept of 'nation'. We must take steps in building an indigenous citizenry and indigenous spaces that have never before appeared in Mexico's institutional fabric," Stavenhagen told IPS.

Along similar lines, 177 organizations from 15 states are working to breathe new life into the indigenous movement. It has been largely stagnant since 2001, when the government quashed the efforts towards autonomy by the indigenous Zapatista National Liberation Army, which took up arms in January 1994 in the southern state of Chiapas.

Now, in a new national and international context, the organizations are pursuing a model of a "plurinational" and "pluricultural" state, one that includes Mexico's array of indigenous ethnicities "without adulteration or compromise."

"We don't have anything to celebrate," reads a declaration from the National Indigenous Movement, which met in the capital on Sep. 15 while the rest of the country commemorated 200 years of the Mexican republic.

The movement questioned "the irrational festive nature of the great national celebration," on which the government spent 200 million dollars, "while our peoples are fighting hunger and desperation."

Daniela Pastrana

Inter-Press Service (IPS)

Sep. 24, 2010


Added: Sep. 26, 2010

Mexico

IOM - Co-organizer and Participant in the Second Latin-American Congress on Migrant Smuggling and Human Trafficking

The [United Nations affiliated] International Organization for Migration (IOM) is participating in the second Latin American Congress on Migrant Smuggling and Human Trafficking, taking place this week in Puebla, Mexico.

The four-day event co-organized by IOM which ends today, brings together hundreds of government officials, experts from international organizations, researchers, civil society and students, as well as the general public, to discuss issues of common concern related to migrant smuggling and human trafficking in Latin-America.

More than 250 international experts are presenting their counter-trafficking work and shared experiences, with the more than 350 participants from every country in the hemisphere.

The main objective of the Congress is to promote active discussion amongst key actors combating human trafficking in Latin America, in order to encourage the development of public policies and legislation against trafficking in the region.

IOM Mexico, as a member of the Latin-American Committee of the Congress, has been coordinating as well as organizing the event. IOM experts from Mexico, Costa Rica and Nicaragua have participated in different panels, presenting IOM activities in the region as well as discussing the link between migration and human trafficking and the need for protection of the human rights of all migrants.

In Latin America, human trafficking for sexual and labor exploitation has reached alarming proportions in recent years. Since 2000, when the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons was approved, many Latin American countries have updated or drafted anti human trafficking laws and have put in place public policies aimed at combating the crime and providing vital protection to the victims.

Organized criminal networks earn billions of dollars each year from the traffic and exploitation of persons who suffer severe violations of their human rights. Common abuses experienced by trafficking victims include rape, torture, debt bondage, unlawful confinement, and threats against their family or other persons close to them, as well as other forms of physical, sexual and psychological violence.

According to Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH by its Spanish acronym), with whom IOM Mexico has recently signed a cooperation agreement, each year more than 20,000 persons fall victim to human trafficking in Mexico, mainly in border areas and in tourist destinations.

"Data on human trafficking in Mexico is rare and there are only estimations on this serious problem," said Thomas Lothar Weiss, IOM Chief of Mission in Mexico.

"What we know is that Chiapas and Chihuahua, where IOM has sub-offices, are two of the main states of origin and destination of trafficking in Mexico. One of the worst forms of trafficking detected recently in Mexico is linked with the kidnapping of people for recruitment in the organized criminal groups," Weiss added...

Hélène Le Goff

International Organization for Migration (IOM)  México

Sep. 24, 2010


Added: Sep. 26, 2010

Texas, USA

Chase leads deputies to possible human trafficking ring

San Antonio - A chase led Bexar County deputies to a home they say may be part of human trafficking ring.

Deputies chased a stolen truck to a home in the 11,000 block of Jarrett Road in Far Southwest Bexar County around 11:00 a.m. Friday. The deputies found 17 illegal immigrants living inside the home in horrible conditions. Investigators believe the illegal immigrants were smuggled here and stayed cramped up inside the small home, sleeping wherever they could find space.

"The living conditions are pretty bad," said Sgt. R. Fletcher of the Bexar County Sheriff's Department. "And we're talking about 15 to 17 people in a 3 bedroom home..."

WOAI

Sep. 24, 2010


Added: Sep. 26, 2010

Canada

Woman faces first such Manitoba charge; Victim forced into prostitution, police say

Manitoba's first-ever human trafficking charge has been laid after an older woman befriended a 21-year-old woman from northern Manitoba, then allegedly forced her into the sex trade.

The 38-year-old is accused of taking the victim's identification and clothing, punching her in a fight and stopping her twice as she attempted to run away, Winnipeg police said Thursday.

The pair lived in a home in the 300 block of Aikens Street. The older woman forced the girl to turn over the cash she made to pay for food and a roof over her head, investigators believe.

The Winnipeg Police Service vice unit began probing the case after officers were initially called to the home on a complaint of a fight Monday.

The woman was arrested Wednesday.

"The best way to describe it is we have an individual whose human rights have been violated to an extreme," said WPS spokesman Const. Jason Michalyshen, noting investigators believe the abuse started earlier this month.

"It's certainly not something we come across on a regular basis."

The Criminal Code added a specific section against human trafficking in 2005.

The Criminal Code describes a trafficker in human beings as "a person (who) exploits another person if they cause the victim to provide labour or service for fear of their safety or the safety of someone known to them."

...A source said the victim is from a remote First Nations [indigenous] community and lived in two city shelters before moving in with the older woman...

Theresa Peebles is charged with forcible confinement, assault and three counts of trafficking. All charges date from Sept. 5 to Sept. 20 this year...

"These types of charges are difficult to lay. There's a lot of criteria that need to be established, and because it is fairly new legislation, fairly new law, members of the policing community are still learning and being educated about it," Michalyshen said.

Gabrielle Giroday

The Winnipeg Free Press

Sep. 24, 2010


Added: Sep. 24, 2010

Mexico, Latin America

Marcela Lagarde y de los Ríos - president of Mexico's Network for Women’s Life and Liberty, speaks at the Second Latin American Congress on Human Trafficking

Mujeres con derechos y ciudadanía, debe exigir la sociedad

Plantea Marcela Lagarde en Congreso sobre Trata y Tráfico

El delito de trata de personas no sólo debe ser visto como un hecho del crimen organizado, sino como resultado de una complejidad social apabullante, que abarca a la sociedad y al Estado, y que éste último no se ha reformado para hacer frente a sus obligaciones legales, afirmó aquí la feminista Marcela Lagarde y de los Ríos.

Ante los comités de organización y académico del II Congreso Latinoamericano sobre Trata y Tráfico de Personas: Migración, Género y Derechos Humanos, se pronunció por recurrir a los aportes teóricos de la investigación de la perspectiva de género, para definir y diferenciar los límites precisos sobre los riesgos de ser objeto de trata, que corren las mujeres y las niñas, por edad, clase social, etnicidad, condiciones de migración, de legalidad e ilegalidad...

Women, with our rights of citizenship, must make demands upon society

Feminist activist Marcela Lagarde addresses the Second Latin American Congress on Human Trafficking

In her presentation before the Second Latin American Congress on Human Trafficking, feminist activist Marcela Lagarde y de los Ríos stated that human trafficking should not be seen only as an act perpetrated by organized crime, but also as a overwhelmingly powerful social complex that envelops our society and the state. In response, she said, government has not reformed itself to accept its legal obligations in this area.

During her presentation: Human Rights Synergies for Women in Response to Human Trafficking, Lagarde, who is the president of the Network for Women’s Life and Liberty (in Mexico), went on to discuss the fact that investigating human trafficking from a gender perspective requires that we understand the risks that women and girls face upon becoming victims of trafficking, because of their gender, social class, ethnicity and their legal or illegal condition of migration.

Lagarde explained that when, for example, the topic of immigrants is discussed, the term “inmigrantes”

 (immigrants), not “las migrantes” (women immigrants) is used.

Linguistically, Lagarde declared, this imposes a brutal form of discrimination  when the topic of human trafficking is discussed. When the term “personas” (persons) is used in the context of our patriarchal discourse, the term means, specifically, men.

Thus, the term ‘trafficking in persons’ is never translated to mean that the human slavery of women and girls exists. Female victims are almost never mentioned in the context of human trafficking [in Mexico]. This omission contributes to their invisibility.

Lagarde went on to say that, if we approach the problem of human trafficking without using a gender-based perspective, we cannot arrive at a point where we understand that this problem “is closely associated with the [intentional] domination and dehumanization of women.”

These factors cause society to focus its solutions to trafficking on targeting organized crime, while at the same time failing to work toward equality between men and women and a respect for the sexual and reproductive rights of girls and adolescents, said Lagarde...

Elizabeth Muñoz Vásquez

The CIMAC Women's News Agency

Sep. 22, 2010


Added: Sep. 24, 2010

Mexico, Latin America

Ibero-American University rector David Fernández Dávalos, shown at another university event - spoke at the opening ceremonies of the Second Latin American Congress on Human Trafficking

Erradicar la trata no “le importa a nadie”: Fernández Dávalos

Encuentro Latinoamericano sobre Trata y Tráfico de Personas

Cada año, cerca de 100 mil mujeres provenientes de países de América Latina y el Caribe, son llevadas con engaños y falsas promesas de empleo, a diversas naciones del mundo, sin que se conozcan las cifras nacionales oficiales, estudios, las estadísticas, ni los informes cuantitativos que permitan evidenciar el fenómeno de la trata de personas.

Al inaugurar aquí el Segundo Encuentro Latinoamericano sobre Trata y Tráfico de Personas: Migración, Género y Derechos Humanos, el rector de la Universidad Iberoamericana, Puebla, David Fernández Dávalos, lamentó que este problema no le importe a nadie, “ni a la academia, ni a los gobernantes, ni a gran parte de la sociedad civil”.

En el mundo, dijo, más de 4 millones de personas son víctimas del delito de trata y de esa cifra, el 80 por ciento es sufrida por mujeres, niños y niñas en sus diversas formas de explotación sexual.

Desafortunadamente, continuó, a la trata con fines de explotación sexual y laboral, la adopción ilegal, el comercio de órganos y el tráfico de droga, se suma la venta de niñas y adolescentes en comunidades indígenas de México, los abusos en el servicio doméstico, los matrimonios serviles y la violencia familiar, son validadas por sistemas patriarcales, machistas y conservadores, que limitan la problemática y la reducen...

Ibero-American University rector David Fernández Dávalos: "Nobody cares about  eradicating human trafficking"

Each year, close to 100,000 Latin American and Caribbean women are taken, through the use of offers of work and other false promises, to nations around the world. We do not know the real numbers of victims. Neither official national estimates nor quantitative studies can really tell us the true scope of human trafficking.

During the opening ceremonies of the Second Latin American Congress on Human Trafficking, which is being held on the campus of the Ibero-American University in the city of Puebla, in Puebla state, university rector David Fernández Dávalos lamented that nobody cares about human trafficking, "neither academia, nor those in government, nor the great majority of civil society."

Fernández Dávalos noted that globally, some 4 million persons are victims of human trafficking. Of these, 80% are women and children who suffer through diverse forms of sexual exploitation.

Unfortunately, added Fernández Dávalos, in addition to the traditional categories of sex and labor trafficking, illegal adoptions, organ trafficking and drug trafficking, we must also add the sale of children and youth in the indigenous communities of Mexico [they are 30% of the national population], abuses found in domestic service, servile marriages and family violence. These problems are all validated by [our] conservative and machista [machismo-based] patriarchal  systems, which work to diminish action to respond to the problem.

Fernández Dávalos presented figures compiled by the Civil Guard of Spain which indicate that 70% of the female victims of human trafficking in that nation come originally from Latin America, while in Japan, an estimated 1,700 Latin America women are held as sex slaves.

Fernández Dávalos declared that public strategies must be created to address human trafficking in each region of Latin America. Today efforts at prevention, protection and prosecution are inadequate.

Oscar Arturo Castro, who is the director of the Ignacio Ellacuria Human Rights Center at the university as well as member of the organizing committee of the Congress, argued that the dynamics of migration must be studied as part of the problem of human slavery. Castro, "because organized crime is taking advantage of human mobility."

Castro, "[Organized crime] exploits migration driven by greed, and disregards human dignity, a reality that we can observe in the example of the recent massacre of 72 Central American migrants in Tamaulipas, as well as in the cases of the thousands of Central [and South] American migrants who are kidnapped by drug trafficking gangs across the entire territory of Mexico."

The opening ceremonies of the Congress were also attended by José Manuel Grima, president of the Congress and Teresa Ulloa Ziaurríz, director of the Coalition Against the Trafficking Women and Girls - Latin American and Caribbean branch. Some 300 presenters are expected during the 4 days of planned conference sessions.

Elizabeth Muñoz Vásquez

The CIMAC Women's News Agency

Sep. 21, 2010


Added: Sep. 26, 2010

Latin America

América Latina ineficaz en combate a trata de personas

Puebla city in Puebla state, Mexico - El combate a la trata de personas ha sido ineficaz y ha derivado en la creación de mercados intrarregionales, según especialistas y activistas de América Latina reunidos desde este martes en esta ciudad mexicana.

"El combate ha terminado en respuestas más formales que reales, como los cambios legales. No hay interés de los estados, no es una prioridad", criticó a IPS Ana Hidalgo, de la oficina en Costa Rica de la Organización Internacional para las Migraciones (OIM), la institución intergubernamental que promueve una migración ordenada y justa.

Hidalgo forma parte de los 450 académicos y activistas que participan en Puebla, a 129 kilómetros al sur de Ciudad de México, en el Segundo Congreso Latinoamericano sobre Trata y Tráfico de Personas, inaugurado este martes y que concluirá este viernes 24.

"Se atiende a una víctima y se inicia un proceso penal, pero no hay sentencia porque hay impunidad. El consumidor, léase el prostituyente o el violador, no está captado en la fórmula", señaló la abogada Ana Chávez, del Servicio Paz y Justicia de Argentina.

En México cada año unas 20.000 personas serían víctimas de la trata, según el no gubernamental Centro de Estudios e Investigación en Desarrollo y Asistencia Social (CEIDAS), uno de cuyos ejes es el estudio de ese fenómeno.

En América Latina esa cifra es de 250.000 personas, con una ganancia de 1.350 millones de dólares para las bandas, según estadísticas de la mexicana Secretaría (ministerio) de Seguridad Pública. Pero los datos sobre el fenómeno son variables, si bien las Naciones Unidas subraya que el delito se ha exacerbado en el comienzo del siglo...

Inter Press Service (IPS) / TerraViva

Sep. 21, 2010

English Language Version:

Added: Sep. 24, 2010

Latin America: Five Million Women Have Fallen Prey to Trafficking Networks

The fight against human trafficking in Latin America is ineffective and has led to the emergence of intra-regional markets for the trade, according to experts and activists meeting this week in this Mexican city.

'Responses to the trade in human beings have been more formal than real, as have the changes in legislation. Governments are not interested: it is not their priority,' Ana Hidalgo, from the Costa Rican office of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), told IPS.

Hidalgo is one of the 450 academics and activists taking part in the Second Latin American Conference on Smuggling and Trafficking of Human Beings, under the theme 'Migrations, Gender and Human Rights', Sept. 21-24 in Puebla, 129 kilometers south of Mexico City.

Ana Chávez, a lawyer with Argentina's Peace and Justice Service (SERPAJ) said, 'Victims are listened to, and criminal prosecutions are initiated, but no one is sentenced because of impunity. The consumers, that is, the pimps, clients or rapists, do not come into the equation.'

In Mexico some 20,000 people a year fall victim to the modern-day slave trade, according to the Centre for Studies and Research on Social Development and Assistance (CEIDAS), which monitors the issue.

The total number of victims in Latin America amounts to 250,000 a year, yielding a profit of 1.35 billion dollars for the traffickers, according to statistics from the Mexican Ministry of Public Security. But the data vary widely. Whatever the case, the United Nations warns that human trafficking has steadily grown over the past decade.

Organizations like the Coalition Against Trafficking of Women and Girls in Latin America and the Caribbean (CATW-LAC) estimate that over five million girls and women have been trapped by these criminal networks in the region, and another 10 million are in danger of falling into their hands...

Latin America is a source and destination region for human trafficking, a crime that especially affects the Dominican Republic, Brazil and Colombia.

The conference host, David Fernández Dávalos, president of the Ibero-American University of Puebla (UIA-Puebla), said in his inaugural speech that human trafficking is a modern and particularly malignant version of slavery, only under better cover and disguises.

On Aug. 31, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged member states to implement a Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, because it is 'among the worst human rights violations,' constituting 'slavery in the modern age,' and preying mostly on 'women and children.'

The congress coincides with the International Day Against the Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Women and Children on Thursday, instituted in 1999 by the World Conference of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW).

Government authorities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Mexico concur that criminal mafias in this country have been proved to combine trafficking in persons with drug trafficking, along both the northern and southern land borders (with the United States and with Guatemala, respectively)...

In Mexico, a federal Law to Prevent and Punish Trafficking in Persons has been on the books since 2007, but the government has yet to create a national program to implement it, although this is stipulated in the law itself.

The Puebla Congress, which follows the first such conference held in Buenos Aires in 2008, is meeting one month after the massacre of 72 undocumented migrants in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, which exemplified the connection between drug trafficking and trafficking in persons, and drew International attention to the dangers faced by migrants in Mexico.

Miguel Ortega, a member of the Democratic Alliance of Civil Society Organizations, a Mexican umbrella group representing 50 NGOs, told IPS: 'In first place, the problem is invisible, and until the state makes appropriate changes to the laws, there will be no progress. We want to see prompt and decisive action.'

IOM's Hidalgo said, 'our investigations and research have found that Nicaraguan women are trafficked into Guatemala and Costa Rica, and Honduran women are trafficked into Guatemala and Mexico.'

Women from Colombia and Peru have been forced into prostitution in the southern Ecuadorean province of El Oro, according to a two-year investigation by Martha Ruiz, a consultant responsible for updating and redrafting Ecuador's National Plan against Human Trafficking.

SERPAJ's Chávez said, 'We have not been able to get governments to take responsibility for investigating these crimes. The states themselves are a factor in generating these crimes.'

Out of the 32 Mexican states, eight make no reference to human trafficking in their state laws. Mario Fuentes, head of CEIDAS, wrote this week in the newspaper Excélsior that the country is laboring under 'severe backwardness and challenges in this field, because it lacks a national program to deal with the problem, as well as a system of statistics.'

Emilio Godoy

Inter Press Service (IPS)

Sep. 22, 2010


Added: Sep. 21, 2010

Mexico

Democratic U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont has insisted upon linking U.S. aid to human rights improvements in Mexico

Rights groups against giving US anti-drug aid to Mexico

Human rights groups Tuesday urged US lawmakers not to authorize 36 million dollars in anti-drug trafficking aid to Mexico because of human rights violations by its security forces.

Mexico City - Human rights groups Tuesday urged US lawmakers not to authorize 36 million dollars in anti-drug trafficking aid to Mexico because of human rights violations by its security forces.

"Releasing these funds would send the message that the United States condones the grave human rights violations committed in Mexico, including torture, rape, killings, and enforced disappearances," they said in a letter to the Senate.

Seven human rights groups signed the petition including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Washington Office on Latin America and Mexico's Association for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights.

An annual US State Department report on September 2 gave the Senate its assessment of the state of human rights in Mexico, required before the disbursement of additional aid in the Plan Merida drug interdiction program, under which Mexico got 36 million dollars last year.

Mexico is facing spiraling drug-related violence that has cost the lives of more than 28,000 murders since 2006, despite a major police-military crackdown on crime by President Felipe Calderon.

The rights groups recognized that Mexico was facing "a severe public security crisis.

"However, human rights violations committed by Mexican security forces are not only deplorable in their own right, but also significantly undermine the effectiveness of Mexico's public security efforts."

Agence France-Presse (AFP)

Sep. 15, 2010

See also:

The CIMAC women’s news agency’s collection of more than 370 factual articles on cases of the rape of civilian women in Mexico by military service members.

(In Spanish)


Added: Sep. 19, 2010

Mexico

Mexican journalist, author and anti-trafficking activist Lydia Cacho Ribeiro

Photo: CIMAC Women's News Agency - Mexico

Premio Internacional al Escritor Valiente para Lydia Cacho

Por investigación y denuncia de red de pederastia en México

La periodista Lydia Cacho Ribeiro recibirá el próximo 20 de octubre el Premio Internacional al Escritor Valiente, que otorga la Asociación de Escritores PEN Internacional, distinción que se confiere a quienes escriben y sufren persecución por sus creencias.

En un comunicado, la Asociación sin fines de lucro informó que otorgará a Cacho el reconocimiento por su investigación y denuncia de una red de pederastia, y sus presuntos vínculos con autoridades y empresarios en México...

Lydia Cacho receives award for valiant journalism

This coming 20th of October, 2010, journalist and author Lydia Cacho Ribeiro will receive International Writer of Courage Prize from the PEN international writer’s association. The prize is awarded to writers who face persecution for their beliefs.

In a press release, the non-profit association declared that Cacho had been chosen in recognition of her investigation and denunciation of a child sex trafficking network that is presumed to have had ties with Mexican business leaders and authorities.

The PEN press release mentioned that, after the release of her 2005 book about the case, the “Demons of Eden, The Powers Behind Pornography,” Cacho was arrested, accused of defamation and became the subject of death threats.

Cacho is a member of the editorial board of the CIMAC women’s news agency, for which she serves as its correspondent in the city of Cancun. She is also a co-founder of the Journalists Network of Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. Since the year 2000, Cacho has been a special consultant on human rights and women’s health issues for the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).

In her most recent book, “Slaves of Power, A Journey to the Heart of the Sex Trafficking of Women and Girls Across the World,” Cacho reveals that between 20,00 and half a million victims of trafficking exist [in Mexico]. The great majority exist to make profits for the prostitution mafias.

Cacho spent 5 years researching the operations of large and small international sex trafficking organizations. She conducted interviews with a large number of victims as well as actual members of the trafficking mafias. See the CIMAC article on Cacho’s work at this link.

Cacho’s efforts have been recognized in awards from: Human Rights Watch; Mexico’s National Journalism Prize; the Amnesty Award of 2007, the Oxfam Award of 2007; the 2009 Hermila Galindo prize for her distinguished work in defense and promotion of human rights for women.

IN April of 2010, Cacho was selected as the World Hero for Press Freedom by the International Press Institute. Cacho was also one of 60 journalists honored during the World Congress, celebrated in Vienna, Austria.

During September, 2010, Cacho received the Manuel Leguineche International Journalism Prize, which was awarded to her by the Spanish Federation of Journalism Associations (FAPE). That prize was dedicated by FAPE to the many journalists who have been murdered in Mexico.

By the Editors

CIMAC Women's News Agency

Sep. 17, 2010

See also:

Mexican journalist Lydia Cacho receives PEN prize

London - A Mexican journalist who was arrested and threatened after exposing a pedophile ring is to receive a major writing prize.

Writers' charity PEN says Lydia Cacho is the recipient of its International Writer of Courage Prize, which goes to writers persecuted for their beliefs.

Cacho was arrested, charged with libel and received death threats after publishing a book about a child sex abuse ring involving business figures in Cancun in 2005...

The awards will be presented in London on Oct. 20.

The Associated Press

Sep. 16, 2010

See also:

Journalist / Activist   Lydia Cacho is    Railroaded by the Legal Process in Mexico for Having Exposing Child Sex Networks In Mexico


Added: Sep. 19, 2010

The World, Chile

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) with former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet, on 14 September 2010

Bachelet: ONU Mujeres Será un Enorme Desafío

La ex presidenta de Chile, Michelle Bachelet describió su nombramiento al frente de ONU Mujeres como un enorme desafío que acoge con beneplácito.

En una entrevista exclusiva con la Radio de la ONU, Bachelet indicó que su designación representa un reconocimiento a los logros de su gobierno y a los avances de su país en políticas destinadas al adelanto de la mujer.

Consideró que su experiencia como mandataria y su relación con otros jefes de Estado contribuirán a avanzar en el objetivo de la igualdad de los géneros.

“Mi experiencia también en todo lo vinculado al trabajo de igualdad de las mujeres, igualdad de derechos, a luchar contra la violencia, a luchar contra la discriminación, esta ha sido la historia de mi vida. No sólo con respecto a las mujeres, sino de los hombres, mujeres, niños, ancianos. Toda esta experiencia la quiero entregar en esta tarea que es la dirección de esta nueva estructura de Naciones Unidas”.

La nueva Entidad para la Igualdad entre los Géneros, “ONU Mujeres”, fue creada por la Asamblea General el pasado 2 de julio, y fusiona cuatro organismos de la ONU que se ocupaban del tema. Comenzará a operar en enero de 2011.

Radio ONU - UN Radio

Sep. 15, 2010

See also:

Former Chilean president to head new high-profile UN women’s agency

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) with Michelle Bachelet

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today named former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet to head United Nations Women (UN Women), a newly created entity to oversee all of the world body’s programmes aimed at promoting women’s rights and full participation in global affairs.

The new body – which will receive a large boost in funding and become operational in January – merges four UN agencies and offices: the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues, and the UN International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (UN-INSTRAW).

“UN Women will promote the interests of women and girls across the globe,” Mr. Ban told reporters in announcing the appointment. “Ms. Bachelet brings to this critical position a history of dynamic global leadership, highly honed political skills and uncommon ability to create consensus and focus among UN agencies and many partners in both the public and private sector.”

“I’m confident that under her strong leadership we can improve the lives of millions of women and girls throughout the world.”

Ms. Bachelet, Chile’s first female president who prioritized women’s issues throughout her tenure and since leaving office has been working with UNIFEM to advocate for the needs of Haitian women following January’s devastating earthquake, was chosen over two other candidates.

The new entity is set to have an annual budget of at least $500 million, double the current combined resources of the four agencies it comprises.

“As you know the creation of UN Women is the culmination of almost four years’ effort and today’s announcement has been made possible thanks to the hard work of the Member States and the many partners who share our commitment to this agenda, and this has been a top and very personal priority of mine,” Mr. Ban said.

He stressed that at next week’s UN Summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) women and children will be “at the very core of our final push” to realize the ambitious targets for slashing extreme poverty and hunger, maternal and infant mortality, rampant diseases, and lack of access to education and health services, all by the deadline of 2015...

The United Nations

Sep. 14, 2010

See also:

Bachelet Named Head of UN Agency for Women

Former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet became the head of UN Women, a new agency that merges four UN agencies devoted to women’s and gender issues. In his announcement of the position, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said “Ms. Bachelet brings to this critical position a history of dynamic global leadership.”

Americas Quarterly - Weekly Update

Sep. 16, 2010

 


Added: Sep. 19, 2010

Ecuador

Ecuador Closes Open-Door Policy

Authorities announced that Ecuador will begin requiring entry visas for visitors from nine Asian and African countries, ending the country’s policy of universal free entry. The government says it added the exceptions to its visa laws in an effort to stop the use of Ecuador as a base for human trafficking, reports IPS News.

Americas Quarterly - Weekly Update

Sep. 16, 2010


Added: Sep. 19, 2010

The World

Governments seek coordination to fight sex trafficking

Child trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world - an underground business, often conducted on the internet, and driven by enormous profits. According to UNICEF, an estimated 2.5 million children, the majority of them girls, are sexually exploited in the multibillion-dollar commercial sex industry.

While the problem is usually associated with countries with unstable economic and political systems, today it is the biggest in Europe, the United States, Russia and Africa.

[We disagree with the conclusion that . Mexico alone has many more victims of child sex trafficking than the United States. The Dominican Republic, Colombia, Peru,  Brazil and Argentina each have more child victims than the U.S. has at any given time. It is unacceptable that the Latin American sex trafficking problem remains 'invisible' to large segments of journalists, researchers and decision makers. Human smuggling and trafficking in Mexico amounts to a $15 to $20 billion per year criminal industry. The UN's International Organization for Migration has noted that sex trafficking across Latin America totals an estimated $16 billion in annual revenues. That amount in half of the commonly used global number for all human trafficking profits - $32 billion. - LL]

"Last year we identified 56 cases of young people who have experienced sexual exploitation just in the Washington D.C. area," Andrea Powell, executive director of FAIR Fund stated. Powell co-founded the organization eight years ago to stop the trafficking of youth worldwide. It has assisted thousands of teen-aged girls and boys so far in the United States, Bosnia, Serbia, Russia and Uganda.

"Asia" is one of her group's success stories: Lured into prostitution, she often worked 15-hour days in the sex trade…"It was just gross. I separated myself, my mind; I was in another place when it happened," she recalls, "It was like it was not me."

...FAIR Fund helped her turn her life around.

"To put it in a nutshell, they have helped me transform to who I am now," Asia says, "I am not the same person. "But for every "Asia" there are many more who are not so fortunate.

U.S. Congressman Chris Smith is one of the strongest advocates for rights of victims of human trafficking.

"At least a 100,000 American girls, mostly runaways, average age of 13, are on the streets. And within 48 hours, if they are not brought back home or to some shelter, through the use of drugs, crack cocaine, or some other harmful drugs, the pimps are able to turn those girls into forced prostitutes," Smith said. "They abuse them, they rape them. They get STDs, including HIV and AIDS."

Many children are brought to the U.S. from other countries, mostly Latin America, Southeast Asia, south and eastern Europe. Roma children are often brought from Bosnia or Serbia to steal or clean houses. Children from East Africa are brought to work as domestic servants or farm labor, while children from India are forced to work in the garment business. Their families often do not have any idea what has become of them. In many countries, including the US, even police officers who come to brothels or strip clubs buy sex from the victims instead of helping them...

Amra Alirejsovic writes for Voice of America.

Amra Alirejsovic

Energy Publisher

Sep. 13, 2010


Added: Sep. 19, 2010

Illinois, USA

West Chicago man gets 30 years for molesting girls

After the West Chicago woman returned home from her daughters' school event, the two girls told her a secret they shared about her live-in boyfriend.

"I had no idea what I was about to hear," the mother wrote in a victim-impact statement. "Both my daughters then said that he had sexually molested them. I am so angry because this man has taken something so sacred. They are going to have to live with the pain and memories of his actions for the rest of their lives."

Francisco Moyotl was sentenced Thursday to 30 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to committing predatory criminal sexual assault of a child and aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

The 42-year-old West Chicago man must serve 85 percent of the prison term before being eligible for parole. He also likely will face deportation because he is not a U.S. citizen...

Christy Gutowski

The Daily Herald

Sep. 16, 2010


Added: Sep. 19, 2010

New York, USA

32-year-old sex offender arrested for rape of 75-year-old woman in Bronx

A hulking sex offender raped a 75-year-old Bronx woman who employed his mother as a caretaker, police said Monday.

Marcos Cuevas sneaked into a private senior citizens residence on Sunday and had wormed his way into the apartment of another woman - a neighbor of the victim - when she happened to come by for a visit, police said.

"I'm looking for my mother," the brawny pervert told her.

"She's not here," the elderly victim replied. "She's off on weekends."

So Cuevas, 32, tied the wrists of the victim and her 76-year-old pal behind their backs - and then raped the younger woman, police said.

The tattooed terror, who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 295 pounds, also robbed the 76-year-old of $10 before fleeing the Bronx building, cops said.

When detectives arrived, the rape victim had no problem identifying her attacker because his mom, Iris, works as a home care attendant for her 95-year-old mother, police said.

A Level 3, or high risk, sex offender, Cuevas was caught later on E. 141st St. in Manhattan.

Cuevas was charged with rape, robbery, sex abuse and unlawful imprisonment. His alleged victim was in stable condition at Lincoln Hospital.

Ivonne Suarez, who said she is Cuevas' wife, defended her "Gentle Giant" and insisted the rape accusation was dreamed up by a "crazy woman."

"He would never do this after spending that time in jail," said Suarez, 40. "The woman is senile. She made up this story. My husband wouldn't lay a hand on her."

...Cuevas spent nearly a decade behind bars for raping two Manhattan women - one of them at knifepoint in Harlem - in 1996.

Sentenced to seven to 14 years in prison, Cuevas was twice denied parole by boards that deemed him a danger to society. He won a conditional release in November 2005, but a year later he was back in jail after violating his parole in August 2006.

He wasn't released again until November 2009, according to records.

Rocco Parascandola, Kevin Deutsch and Corky Siemaszko

The New York Daily News

Sep.13, 2010


Added: Sep. 19, 2010

California, USA

San Bernardino County Priest Accused of Sexually Abusing 2 Boys

Reverend Alex Castillo maintains his innocence.

Ontario - A Catholic priest in San Bernardino County is accused of sexually abusing two boys within the last two years.

Rev. Alex Castillo was removed from duty as an active priest in June.

He served at four churches within the Diocese of San Bernardino, including Our Lady of Guadelupe in Ontario.

The parents of two adolescent boys, who are brothers, claim Castillo sexually abused their sons. Castillo maintains his innocence.

The accusations were revealed in a letter read in church over the weekend.

Parishioners say the man they call "Reverend Alex" is strict and spiritual.

"It's a good person. It's a good father. He's been here for quite a few years," parishioner Benjamin Rosas told KTLA.

Church members say they were told Castillo was sick when he left back in June.

The diocese will only say he's in a place where he no longer has any contact with parishioners. They won't say where.

Police will not comment on the allegations.

The San Bernardino Diocese is asking any potential victims to come forward.

Eric Spillman

KTLA News

Sep. 14, 2010


Added: Sep. 19, 2010

Ohio, USA

Teen girl says she was raped

Dayton - Police are looking for a man, possibly Hispanic in connection with the sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl.

Officers say the girl was walking home from school near Bolton Avenue when a man started following her. He then jumped out , grabbed the girl, threw her over his shoulders, and took her into a vacant house where she was assaulted.

Police say the man is between the ages of 18 and 20 and weighs about 140 pounds. He has a teardrop tattoo under one of his eyes, and he is dressed in black.

If you have any information about this crime, please call 333-COPS.

Charlie Van Sant

WHIO

Sep. 17, 2010


Added: Sep. 14, 2010

Mexico

The wrong solution in Mexico

The Obama administration is right to consider boosting funding, but increased militarization to combat drug cartels is misguided. The U.S. would be wiser to address rampant corruption.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made a dangerous mistake Wednesday when she spoke of Mexico's drug cartels as "insurgents" and suggested reviving President Clinton's Plan Colombia to address the issue. That program set up U.S. military bases in Colombia and funneled billions of dollars in military aid to fight the country's drug-trafficking left-wing insurgency. The last thing the United States needs today is a new quagmire south of the Rio Grande.

Mexico is different from Colombia. Colombia was up against a rebel organization bent on taking over the government. In contrast, Mexican drug traffickers are businessmen who we can assume are principally concerned with increasing their profits. In the end, they prefer to use "silver," or bribes, over "lead," or bullets. Although they are quick to kill or decapitate members of rival gangs, they much prefer a pliant police officer, soldier or mayor to a dead one. This is why government officials make up such a small percentage of the dead — only about 3,000 out of 28,000, according to official statistics...

Plan Colombia was highly problematic. More than $4 billion of military aid and the construction of U.S. military bases did reduce the violence. Nevertheless, Colombian cocaine still flows freely into the U.S. market and is one of the most important sources of income for the Mexican cartels.

U.S. military support in Colombia also led to skyrocketing human rights abuses and numerous "disappeared" citizens, at a considerable cost to the country's social fabric. Nongovernmental organization and media reports have found that much of the aid was channeled to [ultra-conservative] paramilitary groups and that the U.S. presence emboldened the Colombian military to act with impunity...

[One] strategic move would be to aggressively fund and support independent investigative journalism and alternative media outlets, which have played a major role in holding government accountable. Journalism has become a high-risk profession in Mexico. Both cartels and the government have done their best to suppress the truth about corruption.

Unfortunately, neither strong anti-corruption agencies nor support for journalists have formed a part of the new focus on social programs, which months ago the Obama administration suggested as a possible focus for future funding to Mexico. Under the influence of the Calderon government, most of the talk has been about much "softer" initiatives, such as drug education, urban renewal, scholarships and community development programs. All of this is fine, but none of it will attack the roots of the present failure to rein in the drug cartels in Mexico.

It is time to turn the corner in U.S. policy toward Mexico. Instead of sending more money [for] attack helicopters, military bases or social development programs, the U.S. could make a significant contribution to peace in North America by helping to aggressively combat corruption and supporting freedom of expression.

John M. Ackerman is a professor at the Institute for Legal Research at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, editor-in-chief of the Mexican Law Review and a columnist for La Jornada newspaper and Proceso magazine.

John M. Ackerman

Sep. 10, 2010


Added: Sep. 11, 2010

New Mexico, USA

New Mexico receives $1.6 million from Justice Department

The U.S. Department of Justice has awarded the state of New Mexico $1.64 million in grants for public safety initiatives.

[The grants included ...$215,000] to create a special agent position assigned to the [state attorney general's office's] Border Violence Division to investigate human trafficking cases.

The grants were announced by Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman.

The Associated Press

Sep. 11, 2010


Added: Sep. 10, 2010

Mexico, The United States

Los Angeles Times metro columnist Hector Tobar is a former Mexico City bureau chief for the newspaper.

Photo: L.A. Times

Where's the outrage over immigrant slayings in Mexico?

...For those of us who remember the tragedy of Latin America's recent past, seeing the images of last month's massacre of 72 immigrants in northern Mexico is like reentering an old and very familiar nightmare.

Not long ago, dictators ruled most of Latin America. They had large groups of people kidnapped, tortured and executed in secret. Their crimes against humanity hit nearly every corner of the region, from cosmopolitan Buenos Aires to provincial Guatemala City.

But this new act of mass murder was not the work of a military junta run by generals. It didn't take place in a tiny banana republic without a judicial system worthy of the name.

It happened in the proud, multiparty democracy called Mexico, a country with ample social freedoms, including a vibrant free press. And it wasn't an isolated occurrence. A report last year by Mexico's human rights ombudsman said at least 400 mass kidnappings are reported in Mexico every year, many involving the rape and murder of hostages.

Modern death squads are operating freely in northern Mexico, extorting those who wish to come here, where relatives and jobs await. The kidnappings and murders of immigrants carried out by these groups are a stain on Mexican democracy, and many commentators there recognize this.

"The abuse against migrants is an everyday embarrassment we don't want to talk about because it would rob us of all our moral authority before our neighbors to the north," columnist Alfonso Zarate wrote in response to the massacre in the newspaper El Universal.

"Mexico demands respect for the human rights of 'illegal' workers in the U.S.," Zarate continued, " … but is now itself under the microscope of the international community, which is rightly scandalized and indignant."

...As with the many killings of police officers and officials in Mexico, the San Fernando massacre was an act of psychological warfare. Such extreme violence is meant to spread fear and thus make it easier for the killers to impose their will on the living.

If we stay silent about their crime, if we treat it as just another episode in Mexico's unwinnable drug wars, then we'll allows the killers to win.

And yet, here in the United States, the expressions of outrage from the immigrant rights movement have been muted. You could say they are a mere whisper compared with the very loud campaign against Arizona's SB 1070, a law whose most controversial provisions will probably never go into effect.

We should see the killings as a blunt reminder of the reasons why people so desperately want to come here. And we should speak of San Fernando with the same horror as we do El Mozote and the Naval Mechanics School of Buenos Aires — sites of the most heinous crimes committed by the militaries of El Salvador and Argentina in the 1970s and '80s.

It's not just the killers who deserve our moral outrage, it's the failed judicial systems that allow them to thrive without fear of punishment.

In Latin America, the massacre has already provoked much reflection and protest. The government of Honduras, home to the largest number of its victims, announced it would take new steps to try to discourage illegal immigration to the U.S.

In Mexico, the northern city of Saltillo witnessed a rare event just days after the Aug. 23 massacre: a march by 200 undocumented immigrants, carrying the flags of El Salvador, Guatemala and other Central American countries.

"Our countries deny us the opportunity for economic development," the demonstrators said in a written statement, after marching through the city with covered faces. "But Mexico denies us the opportunity to live."

To stop SB 1070, we've seen Angelenos drive across the desert to Phoenix to march, to denounce both the governor of Arizona and the mad sheriff of Maricopa County, Joe Arpaio.

But I've yet to hear of any rallies at the Mexican consulate or anywhere else here in Los Angeles, demanding that the Mexican government prosecute those guilty of so many migrant killings and disappearances.

Most of the country's leading immigrant rights groups haven't even bothered to issue a news release.

That doesn't surprise me. Generally speaking, the U.S. immigrant rights movement doesn't have much to say about the social and political conditions that lead so many to leave their native countries and place themselves at the mercy of an increasingly violent smuggling industry.

This is wrong. We can't turn a blind eye to the deeper, seemingly intractable injustices that are the obvious root cause of the problem.

Simply put: It's wrong that people have to undertake the journey to the U.S. in the first place. People shouldn't have to leave the land of their ancestors, their extended families, their barrios and their farms.

They leave because the promise of democracy in Mexico and Central America remains unfulfilled.

The Tamaulipas murders are really just the most sickening expression of a vast system of inequality and corruption that still defines life for millions of people.

U.S. immigration reform, unfortunately, won't do anything to strengthen the rule of law in those countries that supply the greatest number of migrants. It won't stop the power of the criminal groups that infiltrate government and intimidate officials, not just in certain regions of Mexico but in much of Central America.

There's a movement for democracy and government accountability in those places. But it's often under threat...

...Many more of us need to stand with those who work to keep the promise of democracy and justice alive in northern Mexico, Guatemala and other places.

It matters not just to them but to us.

And now, as in the age of the dictators, it's a matter of life and death.

Hector Tobar

The Los Angeles Times

Sep. 9, 2010

See also:

LibertadLatina Commentary

Chuck Goolsby

Clarifying the Issues in an Age of Impunity

The September 9th, 2010 article by Los Angeles Times columnist Hector Tobar: Where's the outrage over immigrant slayings in Mexico?, speaks volumes of truth in regard to the world's lack of response to the human rights crises that terrorize the daily lives of the people of Mexico and the rest of Latin America. While much attention is paid to the injustices that immigrants, including the undocumented, face in the United States, few U.S. human rights organizations, including those that exist within the Latino community, dare to address the root causes of the oppression that drives millions to flee to the U.S. in response.

We go beyond Mr. Tobar's analysis to state that the same problem, that of an imbalanced attention to human rights tragedies, also exists in regard to the mass gender atrocities that are today a constant in Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America. Our project, LibertadLatina, exists to counter that lack of awareness and action by focusing the world's attention on the problems of criminal impunity and state corruption and complacency. These dynamics have created conditions in Mexico that have resulted in conditions where rule of law is weak, and where both criminal networks and corrupt law enforcement and military forces compete to see how many Central and South American migrants they can kidnap, rob, rape and, in many cases, sell into slavery.

It is clear to us that the criminal impunity that dominates in Mexico has spread its influence across the United States. The fact that Latin American victims of human slavery account for approximately 60% of the U.S. total of enslaved persons is one indicator of that reality. The related fact that Mexico's human smuggling networks now earn between $15 and 20 billion annually by smuggling immigrants to the U.S. under often inhuman conditions, according to a recent CNN report, is another red flag that should start the alarm bells ringing in Washington.

Mexico's governmental and social institutions are not capable of addressing criminal impunity, and especially its human trafficking component, without being pushed hard to do so. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent statement indicating that Mexico's drug cartels are mounting an 'insurgency-like' campaign against Mexican governmental rule, should give pause to anyone who thinks that bringing human slavery under control in that nation will happen anytime soon.

Both the global human rights community and the U.S. federal government must shift focus and begin to address this crisis as the emergency that it truly is. There is no hope for ending human trafficking in Latin America, nor in the United States, while criminal impunity and state inaction continue to reign in Mexico.

End impunity now!

Chuck Goolsby

LibertadLatina

Sep. 10/14, 2009

Also mentioned in Hector Tobar's September 9, 2010 Los Angeles Times article was the El Mozote massacre:

No Rescue From Atlacatl Battalion

The U.S.-trained Atlacatl Battallion massacred hundreds of unarmed villagers in the town of El Mozote

About the El Mozote Massacre in El Salvador, perpetrated on December 10, 1981

A case of anti-indigenous repression through state sanctioned rape and mass-murder

...The women were disposed of next. "First they picked out the young girls and took them away to the hills," where they were raped before being killed, Amaya reported. "Then they picked out the old women and took them to Israel Marquez's house on the square.
We heard the shots there."

The children died last. "An order arrived from a Lieutenant Caceres to Lieutenant Ortega to go ahead and kill the children too," Amaya observed. "A soldier said 'Lieutenant, somebody here says he won't kill children.' 'Who's the sonofabitch who said that?' the lieutenant answered. 'I am going to kill him.' I could hear them shouting from where I was crouching in the tree."

A boy named Chepe, age 7, was the only child to survive the siege. He later described the terrors he witnessed:

"They slit some of the kids' throats, and many they hanged from the tree ... The soldiers kept telling us, 'You are guerrillas and this is justice. This is justice.' Finally, there were only three of us left. I watched them hang my brother. He was two years old. I could see that I was going to be killed soon, and I thought it would be better to die running, so I ran. I slipped through the soldiers and dove into the bushes. They fired into the bushes, but none of their bullets hit me."

Parascope.com


Added: Sep. 10, 2010

Mexico

37 suspected illegal immigrants found captive in Riverside

The group, which included juveniles, was being held in a 10-by-12-foot room that was locked from the outside and had boarded-up windows.

Federal agents found 37 suspected illegal immigrants, smuggled into the United States from six countries, crammed into a small house in Riverside where some had been held captive for weeks, authorities said Wednesday.

Immigration agents raided the "drop house" after a relative of one of the captives called the Los Angeles Police Department. The caller told police the smugglers had threatened to kill his relative because the family failed to come up with enough money to pay for his release, according to Virginia Kice, spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Los Angeles.

Agents found the immigrants — including two toddlers and a baby — in a small bedroom, measuring about 10 by 12 feet. The room was locked from the outside and the windows were boarded up. The home is in one of the city's older neighborhoods along Martin Luther King Boulevard, about a mile east of the 91 Freeway.

"As far as we know, they were all in pretty good physical condition, though some reported that they had not eaten for days," said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for ICE in Los Angeles.

Six suspected smugglers have been detained and are being questioned, but no arrests have been made, Arnold said.

"We're still in the process of interviewing everyone," Arnold said. "In these circumstances, it does take some time to sort this out."

Agents took an additional seven immigrants linked to the same smuggling scheme into custody earlier in the day as they were being taken to other destinations in the Los Angeles area.

The 44 smuggled immigrants are from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic. The group included 34 men, four women and six juveniles.

Those smuggled into the country illegally will eventually go though deportation proceedings. However, any immigrants who were assaulted by a smuggler or were victims of another crime will be treated as victims and could be eligible for a victims' visa, he said.

Two weeks ago, federal immigration agents found a drop house in Baldwin Park with 35 smuggled illegal immigrants from Central and South America.

Phil Willon

The Los Angeles Times

Sep. 9, 2010


Added: Sep. 10, 2010

Spain, Brazil

Spain Breaks Up a Trafficking Ring for Male Prostitution

Madrid - The Spanish police said Tuesday that it had dismantled for the first time a human trafficking network bringing men rather than women into the country to work as prostitutes.

The police said 14 people, almost all of them Brazilian, were arrested over recent weeks as part of an inquiry into the network’s activities begun in February.

The sex workers were recruited in Brazil, with their travel costs to Spain initially covered by the trafficking network’ organizers in return for a pledge to work subsequently for them, according to a police statement. Most of the recruits, however, expected to work as models or nightclub dancers, although some allegedly knew that they were coming to Spain to offer sex.

The police estimated that between 60 and 80 men were brought to Spain by the network, most of them in their 20s and originating from Brazil’s northern state of Maranhão. They reached Spain by passing through third countries.

The bulk of the arrests occurred on the island of Majorca, including that of the Brazilian accused of being the ringleader, whose identity was not disclosed by the police. The prostitutes ended up owing the network as much as €4,000 each and were sometimes threatened with death if they refused to pay the debt, according to the Spanish police.

Although it is the first time that police officers have broken up a professional male prostitution trafficking network, five people were arrested in 2006 in Spain’s western region of Extremadura for their involvement in an illegal Brazilian prostitution business. More recently, the police have dismantled several gangs exploiting female sex workers, generally from Eastern Europe or Africa. In July, 105 people were arrested for their involvement in a dozen prostitution centers around Madrid in one of the largest clampdowns to date.

A police spokeswoman who asked not to be identified said that Brazilian officials had been involved. Some of the prostitutes were also placed in custody for working illegally in Spain.

Raphael Minder

The New York Times

Aug. 31, 2010


Added: Sep. 9, 2010

Mexico

The Ibero-American University in Puebla opens the Ignacio Ellacuría Human Rights Institute in March of 2010

Acciones vs trata de personas en México son insuficientes: UIA

Cada minuto y medio se comete un delito de trata de personas en el mundo, y en México, aún sabiendo los lugares y rutas donde operan las redes, las acciones que se realizan para evitarlo son insuficientes, señalaron especialistas.

Oscar Castro Soto, director del Instituto de Derechos Humanos “Ignacio Ellacurría” de la Universidad Iberoamericana (UIA), indicó que cada año 400,000 personas son víctimas de dicho delito en el mundo.

En la presentación de la agenda del “II Congreso latinoamericano de trata y tráfico de personas”, el director explicó que 80% de las victimas son niños y mujeres utilizados para explotación sexual y trabajos domésticos, ya sea de forma conciente o en contra de su voluntad.

Las rutas identificadas son: Paraguay, Bolivia, Chile y Argentina; Brasil y España; Panamá, Nicaragua y Costa Rica; y El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, México y Estados Unidos, expresaron académicos de la UIA.

Las redes de trata y de pornografía infantil en México que están vinculadas al narcotráfico, se encuentran en regiones de Tapachula, Cancún, Acapulco, Veracruz, Tijuana, Tlaxcala, Puebla, Ciudad Juárez y La Merced, en el Distrito Federal, indicaron expertos.

Las instituciones federales y estatales de México, con excepción del Instituto de Mujeres del Distrito Federal, no se sumaron a la convocatoria del evento internacional a realizarse del 20 al 24 de septiembre en la UIA de Puebla en la que participaran funcionarios de varios países, lo que ocasionó la sorpresa de varios especialistas.

Raquel Pastor, integrante del Comité Académico del Congreso, señaló en un comunicado, el apoyo del foro para ayudar a quienes trabajan en la persecución del delito de trata, ya que en México no existen instituciones especializadas que atiendan a las víctimas de dicho delito.

Mexico's actions against human trafficking are insufficient: Ibero-American University

According to Oscar Castro Soto, director of the Ignacio Ellacurría Institute for Human Rights at Mexico's Ibero-American University (UIA) in Puebla state, every minute and a half a human trafficking crime is committed somewhere in the world. In Mexico, despite the fact that trafficking locations and routes are known, [state] actions to prevent such crimes are inadequate. According to Castro Soto, 400,000 persons become victims of trafficking each year globally.

Castro Soto presented his observations in the just-released agenda for the upcoming Second Latin American Congress on Human Trafficking, which will be held at the UIA campus in Puebla between September 20th and 24th, 2010. He explained that 80% of the victims of human trafficking are children and women, who either consciously or against their will are utilized for sexual exploitation or domestic servitude.

Known [Latin American] trafficking routes exist in Paraguay, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, the United States and Spain, stated Castro Soto [Soto-Castro's statement omits important human trafficking routes that involve the Dominican Republic and Colombia, the two largest sources of sex trafficking victims in Latin America - LL].

Castro Soto's statement noted that within Mexico, human trafficking and child pornography networks are tied to narco-trafficking organizations. These criminal groups may be found in Tapachula, Cancún, Acapulco, Veracruz, Tijuana, Tlaxcala, Puebla, Ciudad Juárez and the La Merced sector of Mexico City.

With the exception of the National Women's Institute, Mexican federal agencies chose not to participate in the conference. This decision brought expressions of surprise from some of the specialists involved with the event. Government officials of several other nations plan to attend.

Raquel Pastor, who is a member of the academic committee of the Congress, stated in a press release that the goal of the Congress was to assist those in government who seek to prosecute human trafficking crimes, given the fact the Mexico currently does not have institutions set-up to assist victims.

El Semanario - Mexico

Sep. 07, 2010

See also:

From the CATW-LAC flyer for their third annual awards ceremony

La Coalición Regional Contra El Tráfico De Mujeres Y Niñas En América Latina Y El Caribe presentará su "Tercer Premio Latino-americano por La Vida y la Seguridad de las Mujeres y Niñas en America Latina y el Caribe

During the upcoming Secnd Latin American Congress on Human Trafficking, which will be held at the UIA campus in Puebla, Mexico, between September 20th through 24th, 2010, the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women - Latin American and Caribbean branch (CATW-LAC), will present its Third Award for the Defense of Life and Security for Women and Girls in Latin America.

(In Spanish)

CATW-LAC

Sep., 2010

See also:

En la UIA Puebla se inaugurará el Instituto de Derechos Humanos Ignacio Ellacuría |22 de Marzo de 2010|

The UIA in Puebla opens the Ignacio Ellacuría Human Rights Institute on March 22nd, 2010.

(In Spanish)

ContraParte

March 22, 2010



Other important news stories from 2009 and 2010



Added: Jul. 21, 2010

New York, USA

U.S. Ambassador Luis CdeBaca (second from left) and other presenters at UN / Brandeis conference

Hidden in Plain Sight: The News Media's Role in Exposing Human Trafficking

The Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University cosponsored a first-ever United Nations panel discussion about how the news media is exposing and explaining modern slavery and human trafficking -- and how to do it better. Below are the transcript and video from that conference, held at the United Nations headquarters in New York City on June 16 and co-sponsored by the United States Mission to the United Nations and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Take a look as some leading media-makers and policymakers debate coverage of human trafficking. What hinders good reporting on human trafficking? What do journalists fear when they report on slaves and slavery? Why cover the subject in the first place? What are the common reporting mistakes and missteps that can do more harm than good to trafficking victims, and to government, NGO, and individual efforts to end the traffic of persons for others' profit and pleasure?

Among the main points: Panelists urged reporters and editors to avoid salacious details and splashy, "sexy" headlines that can prevent a more nuanced examination of trafficked persons' lives and experiences. Journalists lamented the lack of solid data, noting that the available statistics are contradictory, unreliable, insufficient, and often skewed by ideology. As an example, the two officials on the panel -- Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, head of the U.S. Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, and Under-Secretary-General Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime -- disagreed on the number of rescued trafficking victims. Costa thought the number was likely less than half CdeBaca's estimate (from the International Labour Organization) of 50,000 victims rescued worldwide...

Read the transcript

The Huffington Post

July 15, 2010

Chuck Goolsby

LibertadLatina Note:

In response to the above article by the Huffington Post, on the topic of press coverage of the issue of human trafficking, we would like to point out that the LibertadLatina project came into existence because of a lack of interest and/or willingness on the part of many (but not all) reporters and editors in the press, and also on the part of government agencies and academics, to acknowledge and target the rampant sexual violence faced by Latina and indigenous women and children across both Latin America and the Latin Diaspora in the Untied States, Canada, and in other advanced economies such as those of western Europe and Japan.

Ten years after starting LibertadLatina, more substantial press coverage is taking place. However, the crisis of ongoing mass gender atrocities that plague Latin America, including human trafficking, community based sexual violence, a gender hostile living environment and government and social complicity (and especially in regard to the region's completely marginalized indigenous and African descended victims - who are especially targeted for victimization), continue to be largely ignored or intentionally untouched by the press, official government action, academic investigation and NGO effort.

Therefore we persist in broadcasting the message that the crisis in Latin America and its Diaspora cannot and will not be ignored.

End impunity now!

Chuck Goolsby

LibertadLatina

July 21, 2010


Added: March 1, 2010

Mexico

Deputy Rosi Orozco watches Mexican Interior Secretary Fernando Gómez Mont's presentation at the Forum for Analysis and Discussion in Regard to Criminal Law to Control Human Trafficking.

Video posted on YouTube

Video: Llama Gómez Mont a Visibilizar Delito de Trata de Personas

Video of Mexican Interior Secretary Fernando Gómez Mont's presentation at the Feb. 23rd and 24th, 2010 congressional Forum for Analysis and Discussion in Regard to Criminal Law to Control Human Trafficking.

[Ten minutes - In Spanish]

Deputy Rosi Orozco

On YouTube.com

Feb. 26, 2010

See also:

LibertadLatina Commentary

Chuck Goolsby

Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way!

Mexican Interior Secretary Fernando Gómez Mont's presentation at the congressional Forum for Analysis and Discussion in Regard to Criminal Law to Control Human Trafficking has been widely quoted in the Mexican press. We have posted some of those articles here (see below).

The video of Secretary Mont's discourse shows that he is passionate about the idea of raising awareness about human trafficking. He states: "Making [trafficking] visible is the first step towards liberation."

Secretary Mont believes that the solution to human trafficking in Mexico will come from raising awareness about trafficking and from understanding the fact that machismo, its resulting family violence and also the nation's widespread extreme poverty are the dynamics that push at-risk children and youth into the hands of exploiters.

During Secretary Mont's talk he expressed his strongly held belief that federalizing the nation's criminal anti-trafficking laws is, in effect, throwing good money after bad. In his view, the source of the problem is not those whom criminal statutes would target, but the fundamental social ills that drive the problem.

The Secretary's views have an element of wisdom in them. We believe, however, that his approach is far too conservative. An estimated 500,000 victims of human trafficking exist in Mexico (according to veteran activist Teresa Ulloa of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women - Latin American and Caribbean branch - CATW-LAC).

A note about the figures quoted to describe the number of child sexual exploitation victims in Mexico...

Widely quoted 'official' figures state that between 16,000 and 20,000 underage victims of sex trafficking exist in Mexico.

We believe that, if the United States acknowledges that 200,000 to 300,000 underage children and youth are caught-up in the commercial sexual exploitation of children - CSEC, at any one time, based on a population of 310 million, (a figure of between .00064 and .00096 percent of the population), then the equivalent numbers for Mexico would be between 68,000 and 102,000 child and youth victims of CSEC for its estimated 107 million in population.

Given Mexico's vastly greater level of poverty, its legalization of adult prostitution, and given that southern Mexico alone is known to be the largest zone in the world for the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), with 10,000 children being prostituted just in the city of Tapachula (according to ECPAT figures), then the total number of underage children and youth caught-up in prostitution in Mexico is most likely not anywhere near the 16,000 to 20,000 figure that was first released in a particular research study from more than five years ago and continues to be so widely quoted today.

Regardless of what the actual figures are, they include a very large number of victims.

While officials such as Secretary Mont philosophize about disabling anti-trafficking law enforcement and rescue and restoration efforts, while instead relying upon arriving at some far-off day when Mexican society raises its awareness and empathy for victims (and that is Mont's policy proposal as stated during the recent trafficking law forum), tens of thousands of victims who are being kidnapped, raped, enslaved and sold to the highest bidder need our help. They need our urgent intervention. As a result of their enslavement, they typically live for only a few years, if that, according to experts.

The reality is that the tragic plight of victims can and must be prevented. Those who have already been victimized must be rescued and restored to dignity.

That is not too much to ask from a Mexico that calls itself a member of civilized society.

Mexico exists at the very top of world-wide statistics on the enslavement of human beings. Save the Children recognizes the southern border region of Mexico as being the largest zone for the commercial sexual exploitation of children on Planet Earth.

Colombian and Mexican drug cartels, Japanese Yakuza mafias and the Russian Mob are all 'feeding upon' (kidnapping, raping, and exporting) many of  the thousands of Central and South American migrant women who cross into Mexico. They also prey upon thousands of young Mexican girls and women (and especially those who are Indigenous), who remain unprotected by the otherwise modern state of Mexico, where Roman Empire era feudal traditions of exploiting the poor and the Indigenous as slaves are honored and defended by the wealthy elites who profit (economically and sexually) from such barbarism.

Within this social environment, the more extreme forms of modern slavery are not seen as being outrageous by the average citizen. These forms of brutal exploitation have been used continuously in Mexico for 500 years.

We reiterate our view, as expressed in our Feb. 26th and 27th 2010 commentary about Secretary Mont.

Interior Secretary Mont has presided over the two year delay in implementing the provisions of the nation's first anti-trafficking law, the Law to Prevent, and Punish Human Trafficking, passed by Congress in 2007.

  • The regulations required to enable the law were left unpublished by the Interior Secretary for 11 months after the law was passed.

  • When the regulation were published, they were weak, and left out a role for the nation's leading anti-trafficking agency, the Special Prosecutor for Violent Crimes Against Women and Human Trafficking in the Attorney General's office (FEVIMTRA).

  • The regulations failed to target organized crime.

  • The Inter-Agency Commission to Fight Human Trafficking, called for in the law, was only stood-up in late 2009, two years after the law's passage, and only after repeated agitation by members of Congress demanding that President Calderón act to create the Commission.

  • Today, the National Program to Fight Human Trafficking, also called for in the 2007 law, has yet to be created by the Calderón administration.

  • In early February of 2010, Senator Irma Martínez Manríquez stated that the 2007 anti-trafficking law and its long-sought regulations were a 'dead letter' due to the power of impunity that has contaminated the political process.

All of the delaying tactics that were used to thwart the will and intent of Congress in passing the 2007 anti-trafficking law originated in the National Action Party (PAN) administration of President Felipe Calderón. All aspects of the 2007 law that called for regulations, commissions and programs were the responsibility of Interior Secretary Mont to implement. That job was never performed, and the 2007 law is now accurately referred to as a "dead letter" by members of Congress.

Those of us in the world community who actively support the use of criminal sanctions to suppress and ultimately defeat the multi-billion dollar power of human trafficking networks must come to the aid of the many political and non governmental organization leaders in Mexico who are working to create a breakthrough, to end the impasse which the traditionalist forces in the PAN political machine have thrown-up as a gauntlet to defeat effective anti-trafficking legislation.

Interior Secretary Mont's vision for the future, which involves continuing on a course of complete inaction on the law enforcement front, must be rejected as a capitulation to the status quo, and as a nod to the traffickers.

While "Little Brown Maria in the Brothel" - our metaphor for the voiceless victims, suffers yet another day chained to a bed in Tijuana, Acapulco, Matamoros, Ciudad Juárez, Mexico City, Tlaxcala, Tapachula and Cancun, the entire law enforcement infrastructure of Mexico sits by and does virtually nothing to stop this mass gender atrocity from happening.

That is a completely unacceptable state of affairs for a Mexico that is a member of the world community, and that is a signatory to international protocols that fight human trafficking and that defend women and children's human rights.

We once again call upon U.S. Ambassador at Large Luis CdeBaca, director of the Trafficking in Persons office at the State Department, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and President Barack Obama to stand-up and speak out with the moral authority of the United States in support of the forces of change in Mexico.

Political leaders and non governmental organizations around the world also have a responsibility to speak-up, and to let the government of President Felipe Calderón know that the fact that his ruling party (finally) supported presenting a forum on trafficking, and the holding of a few press conferences, is not enough of a policy turn-around to be convincing.

The PAN must take strong action to aggressively combat the explosive growth in human slavery in Mexico in accordance with international standards. Those at risk, and those who are today victims, await your effective response to their emergency, President Calderón.

Enacting a 'general' federal law that is enforceable in all of Mexico's states would be a good fist step to show the world that sincere and honest voices against modern day slavery do exist in Congress, and are willing to draw a line in the sand on this issue.

As for Secretary Mont, we suggest, kind sir, that you consider the age-old entrepreneurial adage, and either "lead, follow, or get out of the way" of progress.

No more delays!

There is no time to waste!

End impunity now!

- Chuck Goolsby

LibertadLatina

March 1, 2010

See Also:

Mexico

Víctimas del tráfico de personas, 5 millones de mujeres y niñas en América Latina

De esa cifra, más de 500 mil casos ocurren en México, señalan especialistas.

Five million victims of Human Trafficking Exist in Latin America

Saltillo, Coahuila state - Teresa Ulloa Ziaurriz, the director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women's Latin American / Caribbean regional office, announced this past Monday that more than five million women and girls are currently victims of human trafficking in Latin America and the Caribbean.

During a forum on successful treatment approaches for trafficking victims held by the Women's Institute of Coahuila, Ulloa Ziaurriz stated that 500,000 of these cases exist in Mexico, where women and girls are trafficked for sexual exploitation, pornography and the illegal harvesting of human organs.

Ulloa Ziaurriz said that human trafficking is the second largest criminal industry in the world today, a fact that has given rise to the existence of a very large number of trafficking networks who operate with the complicity of both [corrupt] government officials and business owners.

Mexico is a country of origin, transit and also destination for trafficked persons. Of 500,000 victims in Mexico, 87% are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation.

Ulloa Ziaurriz pointed out that locally in Coahuila state, the nation's human trafficking problem shows up in the form of child prostitution in cities such as Ciudad Acuña as well as other population centers along Mexico's border with the United States.

- Notimex / La Jornada Online

Mexico City

Dec. 12, 2007

See also:

Mexico: Más de un millón de menores se prostituyen en el centro del país: especialista

Expert: More than one million minors are sexually exploited in Central Mexico

Tlaxcala city, in Tlaxcala state - Around 1.5 million people in the central region of Mexico are engaged in prostitution, and some 75% of them are between 12 and 13 years of age, reported Teresa Ulloa, director of the Regional Coalition Against Trafficking in Women and Girls in Latin America and the Caribbean...

La Jornada de Oriente

Sep. 26, 200

[Note: The figure of 75% of 1.5 million indicates that 1.1 million girls between the ages of 12 and 13 at any given time engage in prostitution in central Mexico alone. - LL]

Added: Dec. 03, 2009

Mexico

Award-winning anti-child sex trafficking activist, journalist, author and women's center director Lydia Cacho

Muertes por violencia en México podrían ser plan de limpieza social: Cacho

Especialistas indagan si asesinatos vinculados con el crimen son una estrategia del Estado, dijo.

Madrid. Las muertes por violencia en México en los últimos años, 15 mil en los últimos tres años, podrían formar parte de un plan de "limpieza social por parte del Estado mexicano", declaró este lunes en Madrid la periodista mexicana Lydia Cacho….

Deaths from violence in Mexico could be the results of social cleansing: Lydia Cacho

Specialists are investigating whether murders are state strategy, Cacho says.

Madrid. Deaths from violence in Mexico in recent years, including 15,000 during the past three years, could form part of a plan of "social cleansing by the Mexican State," declared Mexican journalist Lydia Cacho in Madrid, Spain on Monday.

"Experts are beginning to investigate at this time in Mexico whether these 15,000 murders are linked to intentional social cleansing by the Mexican State," Cacho said in a press conference in which she denounced human rights violations and persecution of the press in her country.

Since President Felipe Calderón [became president] three years ago, we have been witnessing a growing authoritarianism in Mexico "justified by the war " (on drugs), in which " militari-zation, and harassment of journalists and human rights defenders is increasing danger-ously," stated Cacho.

Cacho was kidnapped [by rogue state police agents] and tortured in Mexico after divulging information about a pedophile ring in which businessmen and politicians were involved.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) will determine in an upcoming decision whether Mexican authorities violated the rights of the journalist in that case.

The foundation that bears Cacho's name, created in Madrid a year ago, is organizing a concert to raise funds to help pay for her defense before the IACHR...

Cacho is the author of [the child sex trafficking exposé] The Demons of Eden. In recent years she has received several awards for her work on behalf of human rights carried out through investigative journalism, including the UNESCO-Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Award.

Agence France Presse (AFP)

Nov. 23, 2009

See also:

Mexican Government Part of Problem, Not Solution, Writer Says

Madrid - A muckraking Mexican journalist known for exposes of pedophile rings and child prostitution said on Monday that President Felipe Calderón’s bloody campaign against Mexico’s drug cartels is “not a battle for justice and social peace.”

Lydia Cacho, who has faced death threats and judicial persecution for her writings, told a press conference in Madrid that Mexico’s justice system is “impregnated with corruption and impunity.”

Accompanied by the head of the Lydia Cacho Foundation, Spanish screenwriter Alicia Luna; and Madrid Press Association President Fernando Gonzalez Urbaneja, the author said the nearly three years since Calderón took office have seen increased “authoritarianism” and harassment of journalists and human rights advocates.

The period has also witnessed “15,000 documented killings,” Cacho said, exceeding the carnage in Colombia at the height of that country’s drug wars.

“Specialists are beginning to investigate if those 15,000 killings are linked with intentional social cleansing on the part of the Mexican state,” she said.

Calderón, she noted, “insists on saying that many of those deaths are collateral effects and that the rest are criminals who kill one another.”

“It is a war among the powerful and not a battle for justice and social peace,” she said of the military-led effort against drug cartels, which has drawn widespread criticism for human rights abuses.

Cacho also lamented “self-censorship” in the highly concentrated Mexican media, saying that many outlets color their reporting to avoid trouble with the government and other powerful interests.

A long-time newspaper columnist and crusader for women’s rights, Lydia Cacho became famous thanks to the furor over her 2005 book “Los demonios del Eden” (The Demons of Eden), which exposed wealthy pedophiles and their associates in the Mexican establishment.

In the book, she identified textile magnate Kamel Nacif as a friend and protector of accused pedophile Jean Succar Kuri, who has since been sent back to Mexico from the United States to face charges.

Nacif, whose business is based in the central state of Puebla, accused Cacho of defamation - a criminal offense - in Mexico and arranged to have her arrested for allegedly for ignoring a summons to appear in court for the case.

In February 2006, Mexican dailies published transcripts of intercepted phone conversations in which Nacif was heard conspiring with Puebla Governor Mario Marin and other state officials to have Cacho taken into custody and then assaulted behind bars.

The transcripts indicated that Nacif, known as the “denim king” for his dominance of the blue-jeans business, engineered the author’s arrest by bribing court personnel not to send her the requisite summonses.

Cacho was subsequently released on bail and the case against her was ultimately dismissed.

EFE

Nov. 24, 2009

See Also:

LibertadLatina

Special Section

Journalist / Activist

Lydia Cacho is

Railroaded by the

Legal Process for

Exposing Child Sex

Networks In Mexico

See Also:

Perils of Plan Mexico: Going Beyond Security to Strengthen U.S.-Mexico Relations

Americas Program Commentary

Mexico is the United States' closest Latin American neighbor and yet most U.S. citizens receive little reliable information about what is happening within the country. Instead, Mexico and Mexicans are often demonized in the U.S. press. The single biggest reason for this is the way that the entire binational relationship has been recast in terms of security over the past few years...

The militarization of Mexico has led to a steep increase in homicides related to the drug war. It has led to rape and abuse of women by soldiers in communities throughout the country. Human rights complaints against the armed forces have increased six-fold.

Even these stark figures do not reflect the seriousness of what is happening in Mexican society. Many abuses are not reported at all for the simple reason that there is no assurance that justice will be done. The Mexican Armed Forces are not subject to civilian justice systems, but to their own military tribunals. These very rarely terminate in convictions. Of scores of reported torture cases, for example, not a single case has been prosecuted by the army in recent years.

The situation with the police and civilian court system is not much better. Corruption is rampant due to the immense economic power of the drug cartels. Local and state police, the political system, and the justice system are so highly infiltrated and controlled by the cartels that in most cases it is impossible to tell the good guys from the bad guys.

The militarization of Mexico has also led to what rights groups call "the criminalization of protest." Peasant and indigenous leaders have been framed under drug charges and communities harassed by the military with the pretext of the drug war. In Operation Chihuahua, one of the first military operations to replace local police forces and occupy whole towns, among the first people picked up were grassroots leaders - not on drug charges but on three-year old warrants for leading anti-NAFTA protests. Recently, grassroots organizations opposing transnational mining operations in the Sierra Madre cited a sharp increase in militarization that they link to the Merida Initiative and the NAFTA-SPP [North American Free Trade Act - Security and Prosperity Partnership] aimed at opening up natural resources to transnational investment.

All this - the human rights abuses, impunity, corruption, criminalization of the opposition - would be grave cause for concern under any conditions. What is truly incomprehens-ible is that in addition to generating these costs to Mexican society, the war on drugs doesn't work to achieve its own stated objectives...

Laura Carlsen

Americas Program, Center for International Policy (CIP)

Nov. 23, 2009


Added: Dec. 03, 2009

Mexico

The Numbers Don't Add Up in Mexico's Drug War

Drug Seizures are Down; Drug Production, Executions, Disappearances, and Human Rights Abuses are Up

Just a week before Mexican president Felipe Calderón completes half of his six-year term, [leading Mexico City newspaper] La Jornada reports that 16,500 extrajudicial executions [summary murders outside of the law] have occurred during his administration. 6,500 of those executions have occurred in 2009, according to La Jornada’s sources in Calderón’s cabinet...

While executions are on the rise, drug seizures are down, and drug production is up, Mexico is also experiencing an alarming increase in human rights abuses perpetrated by government agents - particularly the army - in Calderón’s war on drugs. As Mexican human rights organizations have noted, human rights violations committed by members of the armed forces have increased six-fold over the past two years. This statistic is based on complaints received by the Mexican government’s official National Human Rights Commission (CNDH).

No Mas Abusos (No More Abuses), a joint project of the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center, the Fundar Center for Analysis and Investigation, and Amnesty International’s Mexico Section, monitors human rights abuses committed by soldiers, police, and other government agents.

Kristin Bricker

Dec. 1, 2009

See also:

LibertadLatina News Archive - October 2009

El Paso - …Mexican human rights official Gustavo de la Rosa Hickerson [has] reported 170 instances of Mexican soldiers allegedly torturing, abusing and killing innocent people in Chihuahua [state].

The Associated Press

Oct. 17,2009

See also:

LibertadLatina Commentary

According to press reports from Mexico, the Yunque secret society is the dominant faction within the ruling National Action party (PAN).

El Yunque holds the belief that all social activists, including those who advocate for improving the lives of women, indigenous people and the poor, are literally the children of Satan. They take aggressive political action consistent with those beliefs.

During the 1960s, El Yunque perpetrated political assassi-nations and murders targeting their opponents. Although today they profess to adhere to the political process to affect change, it is not a stretch, given their violent history, to conclude that Lydia Cacho's concern, that the federal government of Mexico may be engaging in 'social cleansing through "extrajudicial killings" (which is just a fancy way to say state sanctioned murder of your opponents), may be valid. Cacho is a credible first hand witness to the acts of impunity which government officials use at-times to control free and independent thinking in Mexico. 

We have documented the steady deterioration  of human rights for women in Mexico for several years. Mexico is one of the very hottest spots for the gender rights crisis in the Americas.

The systematic use by military personnel of rape with total impunity, targeting especially indigenous women and girls, is one example of the harshness of  these conditions. The case of the sexual assaults carried out by dozens of policemen against women social protesters in the city of Atenco, Mexico in 2006 is another stark case.

The Mérida Initiative, through which the U.S. Government is funding Mexico's drug war to the tune of $450 million over several years, is financing not only that war, but it is also, apparently, strengthening the authoritarian rule of the El Yunque dominated PAN political party.

El Yunque, which has been identified as being an anti- women's rights, anti-indigenous rights,  anti-Semitic, anti-protestant and anti-gay 'shadow government' in Mexico, does not deserve even one dollar of U.S. funding.

Defeat the drug cartels?

Yes!

Provide funding for El Yunque's quest to build empire in Mexico while rolling-back women and indigenous people's basic human rights?

No!

Chuck Goolsby

LibertadLatina

Dec. 4, 2009

About El Yunque

The National Organization of the Anvil, or simply El Yunque (The Anvil), is the name of a secret society... whose purpose, according to the reporter Alvaro Delgado, "is to defend the [ultra-conservative elements of the] Catholic religion and fight the forces of Satan, whether through violence or murder "and establish" the kingdom of God in the land that is subject to the Mexican Government, to the mandates of the Catholic Church, through the infiltration of all its members at the highest levels of political power.

Wealthy business-men and politicians (mostly from the [ruling] National Action Party) have been named as alleged founders and members of The Anvil.

About El Yunque on Wikipedia.com



¡Feliz Día Internacional

de la Mujer!

Happy International Women's Day!

LibertadLatina Statement for International

Women's

Day, 2010



March 8 / Marzo 8

2009


¡Feliz Día Internacional de la Mujer!

Happy International Women's Day!

LibertadLatina

Nuestra declaración de 2005 Día Internacional de la Mujer es pertinente hoy en día, y define bien la emergencia hemesferica que enfrentan las mujeres y en particular as niñas de todas las Américas.

Pedimos a todas las personas de conciencia que siguimos trabajando duro para inform al público en general acerca de esta crisis, y que aumentamos nuestra presión popular sobre los funcionarios electos y otros encargados de tomar decisiones, que deben cambiar el statu quo y responder con seriadad, por fin, a las   atrocidades de violencia de género -en masa- que afectan cada vez mas a las mujeres y las niñas de las Américas.

¡Basta ya con la impunidad y la violencia de genero!


LibertadLatina

Our 2005 statement for International Women's Day is relevant today, and accurately defines the hemispheric emergency facing women and especially girl children in the Americas.

We ask that all people of conscience work hard to continue informing the general public about this crisis, and that we all ramp-up the pressure  on elected officials and other decision makers, who must change the status quo and respond, finally, to the increasingly severe mass gender atrocities that are victimizing women and girls across the Americas.

End Impunity and violence against women now!

Chuck Goolsby

LibertadLatina

March 8, 2008



LibertadLatina

Raids and Rescue Versus...?

Read our special section on the human rights advocacy conflict that exists between the goals of the defense of undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation on the one hand, and the urgent need to protect Latina sex trafficking victims through law enforcement action...

...As the global economic crisis throws more women and children into severe poverty, and as ruthless trafficking gangs and mafias seek to increase their profits by kidnapping, raping, prostituting and murdering more women and girls (especially non-citizen migrants passing through Mexico to the U.S.), the level of sex trafficking activity will increase dramatically. 

Society must respond and protect those who are at risk...

- Chuck Goolsby

LibertadLatina

Dec. 18, 2008


Read our special section on the crisis in the city of Tapachula

Mexico

The city of Tapachula, located in Chiapas state near Mexico's border with Guatemala, is one of the largest and most lawless child sex trafficking markets in all of Latin America.

Our new news section tracks  events related to this hell-on-earth, where over half of the estimated 21,000 sex slaves and other sex workers are underage, and where especially migrant women and girls  from Central and South America, who seek to migrate to the United States, have their freedom taken from them, to become a money-making commodity for gangs of violent criminals.

A 2007 study by the international organization ECPAT [End Child Prostitution and Trafficking]... revealed that over 21,000 Central Americans, mostly children, are prostituted in 1,552 bars and brothels in Tapachula.

- Chuck Goolsby

LibertadLatina



See: The National Network to End Violence Against Immigrant Women

And: La Alianza Latina Nacional para Erradicar la Violencia Doméstica.

The National Latino Alliance for the Elimination of Domestic Violence


Added June 15, 2008

Ending Global Slavery: Everyday Heroes Leading the Way

Humanity United and Change-makers, a project of Ashoka International,  are conducting a global online competition to identify innovative approaches to exposing, confronting and ending modern-day human slavery.

View the over 200 entries from 45 nations

See especially:

Teresa Ulloa: Agarra la Onda Chavo", Masculini-dad, Iniciación Sexual y Consumo de la Prostitución ('Get It Together Young Man: Masculinity, Sexual Initiation and Consumption of Prostitution).

Equidad Laboral Y La Mujer Afro-Colombiana

(Labor Equality and the Afro-Colombian Woman)

Alianza Por Tus Derechos, Costa Rica: Our borders: say no to traffick-ing of persons, specially children

(APTD's news feed is a major source of Spanish language news articles translated and posted on LibertadLatina).

Prevención de la migración temprana y fortalecimiento de los lazos familiares en apoyo a las Trabajadoras del Hogar en Ayacucho

(Preventing early migration and re-enforcing families)... serving women in Quechua and Spanish in largely Indigenous Ayacucho, Peru.

LibertadLatina.org contributor Carla Conde - Freuden-dorff, on her work assisting Dominican women trafficked to Argentina

LibertadLatina

Our entry:

A Web-based Anti-Trafficking Information Portal in Defense of Indigenous, Afro-Descend-ent & Latina Women in the Americas

We present our history, plans for the future, and an essay discussing the current state of the anti-traffick-ing and anti-exploitation movements in the context of Indigenous, African Desc-endent and Latina women and children's rights in the Americas.

(Our extended copy of our Ashoka competition application)

Contribute your comments and questions about competition entries.

- Chuck Goolsby

LibertadLatina

June 15/21/22, 2008

See also:

Added June 15, 2008

The World

Entrepreneur for Society

Bill Drayton discusses the founding of Ashoka... "Our job is not to give people fish, it's not to teach them how to fish, it's to build new and better fishing industries."

- Ashoka Foundation

See also:

Ashoka Peru


Mexico

A woman is paraded before Johns on Mexico City's San Tomas Street, where kidnap victims are forced into prostitu-tion and are 'trained'

(C) NY Times

The Girls Next Door

The New York Times' ground-breaking story on child and youth sex trafficking from Mexico into the United States

[About Montserrat, a former child trafficking victim:]

Her cell of sex traffickers offered three age ranges of sex partners -- toddler to age 4, 5 to 12 and teens -- as well as what she called a ''damage group.'' ''In the damage group they can hit you or do anything they wanted...''

- Peter Landesman

New York Times Magazine

January 25, 2004


Added March 23, 2008

Mexico

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Un millón de menores latinoamericanos atrapados por redes de prostitución

Former Special Prosecutor for Violent Crimes Against Women - Alicia Elena Perez Duarte:

At least one million children across Latin America have been entrapped by child prostitution and pornography networks.

[In many cases in Mexico] these child victims are offered to [wealthy] businessmen and politicians.

Full story (in English)

See also:

Renuncia fiscal por vergüenza en resolución sobre Cacho

On December 14, 2007 Alicia Pérez-Duarte resigned as Mexico's Special Prosecutor for Violent Crimes Against Women [Fevim].  Duarte:

"I cannot work... where the justices of the Supreme Court won't bring justice in cases of grave violations of human rights."


Added March 1, 2008

Texas, USA

Kristal Minjarez - age 13, Armida Garcia - 15, and Brenda Salazar - 20... all raped and murdered by Andy James Ortiz

To Catch a Killer is the true story of Andy James Ortiz, his young victims, and the Fort Worth police and Tarrant County prosecutors who brought him to justice. The 24 chapter series ran in February and March of 2008.


Tengo 5 meses de edad y soy prostituta

I am 5 months old and I am a prostitute

LibertadLatina

Read our new section on the prostitution of infants by trafficking gangs across Latin America

Last Updated:

Nov. 27, 2008


About Baby Trafficking and [undocumented] Adoptions, and the connection to impunity and anti-Mayan racism in Guatemala



Hurricane Wilma - 2005

Earthquakes and hurricanes...

The impact of natural disasters on women and children's human rights in the Americas


Video

Roundtable on Trafficking of Women and Children in the Americas

- Organization of American States


United States

More than 163,000 Hispanic children... are reported missing and exploited in the United States every year.

- National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)

March 22, 2006


Latin America

Beyond Machismo - A Cuban Case Study

"I am a recovering macho, a product of an oppressive society, a society where gender, race and class domination do not exist in isolated compart-ments, nor are they neatly relegated to uniform categories of repression. They are created in the space where they interact and conflict with each other, a space I will call machismo."

- Cuban-American

theologian and ethicist

Dr. Miguel de la Torre

Remember, and FIND Jackeline Jirón Silva

Necesitamos su ayuda para ubicar a esta Niña.


Added Dec. 11, 2006

The World

Sex abuse, work and war deny childhood to tens

of millions

...An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked every year for labor or sex, and about 1 million children are thought to be exploited in the multi-billion dollar sex industry, UNICEF says.

- Reuters

Dec. 9, 2006

Added Nov. 7, 2006

The World

People trafficking ...is... big business, bringing in US $32 billion annually, worldwide. This makes people trafficking the most lucrative crime after drug trafficking.

- Inter-American

Development Bank
 Nov. 2,2006


"Familia" by Salvadoran
artist Zelie Lardé. (1901-1974)

Who will protect them from impunity?

We Must!

 

Jan., 2009

2009

Dec., 2008

2008

Nov.  2008 

2007

Oct.   2008

2006

Sep.  2008

2005

Aug.  2008

2004

July   2008

2003

June 2008

2002

May   2008

2001


 

We work for all of the children and women who await our

society's effective and substantial help to escape criminal

sexual exploitation's utter brutality and impunity!

End Impunity... Now!

© 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 Charles M. Goolsby, Jr.

All other copyrighted materials © the copyright holder.

Copyrighted materials are presented for non-profit 

public educational 'fair use' purposes only.