“72” Refuge for Migrant Persons, Tenosique, Mexico. Photo@SIPAZ
An International Human Rights Observation Mission on the Guatemala-Mexico Border (MODH in its Spanish acronym) was held from November 10 to 16 to document and highlight the situation of systematic violations of human rights in the border region between Guatemala and Mexico.
The MODH was made up of 24 human rights defenders from countries such as Colombia, El Salvador, Ecuador, Spain, Mexico, the United States and Canada, and more than 30 who accompanied them belonging to the member organizations of the Cross-border Migration and Gender Coordination Committee (MTMG in its Spanish acronym) on both the Mexican and Guatemalan sides [of the border].
The MODH divided along two routes, both beginning their journey in the City of Guatemala.
– Route one passed through: Quetzaltenango, Huehuetenango, La Mesilla and on the Mexican side to Comalapa Border, Tapachula, Suchiate, Acacoyagua, Mapastepec, Tonala and Arriaga.
– Route two passed through: Coban, Sayaxche, Santa Elena and on the Mexican side, Tenosique, Palenque, Salto de Agua and Ocosingo.
They travelled in vehicles to a total of 30 locations and 2,211 kilometers of the cross-border region. Both routes met on November 15 in San Cristobal de Las Casas where they shared their experiences and observations.
The observers had the opportunity to listen to problems of more than 70 organizations and collectives as well as different ways of combating them. They interviewed approximately 1,600 people affected by dispossession, violence against migrants and refugees, and gender-based violence, including members of the Mam, Quiche, Q’anjobal, Kakchiquel, Tseltal, Tsotsil, Tojolabal, Zoque, Chol and mestizos. The MODH visited places that are directly affected by this violence, and were able to verify and document not only constant situations of injustice but also that, in spite of this, people are still fighting for life and dignity.
Among the observations of the MODH, are:
– Since 2012, the number of Central American people who are arriving at the Guatemala/Mexico border has seen a steady increase.
– The number of women migrants has risen, accounting for almost 20% of the migration phenomenon.
– Although migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are the majority, people from other countries, such as the Congo, are now being registered.
– As a consequence of the implementation of energy, mining, agro-industrial, tourism and infrastructure projects, an accelerated dispossession of territory is happening, due to forced displacement, alteration of ecosystems, pollution of agricultural soils and water sources, as well as damage to health, divisions and impacts on the livelihoods of campesino and indigenous communities.
– There is “a common pattern of criminalization, persecution and repression of migrant women and human rights and territory defenders that can lead to loss of liberty and even murder.”
– Even the MODH was watched and harassed in some places by security and intelligence agents in both countries.
– In general, a lack of access to justice for those affected and the prevalence of impunity in the case of those who dare to report can be seen.
– The testimonies revealed a deep crisis of human rights violations with multiple cases of threats, criminality, trafficking, disappearance, kidnapping, robbery, assault, torture, mass murder, rape and sexual abuse, femicide, and corruption, among others.
November 16: The MODH presents its findings in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, where it also met with the “Caravan of Mothers of Disappeared Migrants.”
The MODH warned: “In most cases of human rights violations heard by the Mission, a direct responsibility of public authorities is identified, in collusion with organized crime and national and transnational corporations, which act through co-optation and corruption of the justice system, supported by the presence of private security companies and groups of armed civilians.”
For more information in Spanish:
Denuncian persecución a migrantes, mujeres y defensores en frontera sur (Desinformémonos, 21 de noviembre de 2016)
Patrón en la frontera sur, criminalización y persecución a mujeres, migrantes y defensores (Proceso, 17 de noviembre de 2016)
Comunicado final de la MODH (Voces mesoamericanas, a 16 de noviembre de 2016)
Plan Frontera Sur potencia deportaciones, acusan ONG (La Jornada, 13 de noviembre de 2016)
Inicia Misión Internacional de Observación de Derechos Humanos en la Frontera Guatemala-México (MODH) (Red Nacional de Organismos Civiles de derechos Humanos, Todos los Derechos para Todos y Todas, a 10 de noviembre de 2016)
For more information from SIPAZ: