(Photo : Reuters)
More than half of all Central American immigrants who cross the Mexican northeast in search of a better life in the United States are victims of abuse and human trafficking, said Diana Evelyn Mata Monreal who heads the Welfare and Humanitarian Aid Foundation.
Cases of sexual abuse and exploitation are often reported, aside from other instances where individuals crossing the border are forced to work as part of drug trafficking networks.
"There are no definite statistics, but in some form or other more than 50 percent of migrants have been victimized by trafficking or liberty deprivation. They are not allowed to communicate with their families, they are lied to and they are made unreal promises in order to trick them into a life of slavery," she said.
Evelyn, who is also the technical secretary for the Regional Anti-Trafficking Committee, based in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, warned that immigrant women are the sector that is left most vulnerable to crime and exploitation.
She explains that women are subjected to sexual exploitation or are co-opted to work in safe houses and organized crime activities.
In the case of males, she added that, "they are also linked to this crime. When they reach the border, where they spend some time until they can go to the United States, they are subjected to all kinds of violations of their rights."
Monreal Mata noted that trafficking and exploitation have begun to appear under a new guise that until recently was not even seen before---biomedical experimentation.
"Illicit biomedical experimentation occurs when a person is coerced to be used in experiments that are not recognized by the established medical community," Mata said.
In Tabasco, advocates for immigrant rights doubled down on their petition to the Mexican Government to "radically change" immigration policy after reporting the continuing wave of violence and kidnappings against transiting Central Americans by members of organized crime groups, mainly in the rail routes of Chiapas and Veracruz.
Priest Tomas Gonzalez, who heads La 72, a Tenosique migrant shelter in Tabasco, states that "there are daily massive tragedies, and a reality of sheer terror for those who have to live through those ordeals and those of us who receive the frightening testimonies of what is really going on" in the Mexican areas bordering Guatemala.
In recent months, there has been mounting pressure from advocates of migrants' rights toward the Mexican government to enact policy change that will ensure the immigrants safety during their travel across borders. But the Mexican government has yet to respond with a comprehensive plan to eradicate violence against Central American immigrants.