Trafficking and Abuse of Undocumented Migrants in Transit

Translated  by Marvin Najarro 

Already the nightmare of migrating without documents is terrible enough as to add to it being the victim of trafficking for sexual exploitation, labor, and of organs of men, women and children, with the latter two being the most vulnerable. Not to mention the LGBTI community which besides being discriminated against, suffers a great deal of abuse due to homophobia and patriarchy.

The undocumented is a population constantly exposed to all types of abuse, both from mafias and government authorities of the countries of origin, transit, destination and return. A migrant in transit lives in a delicate situation because of the social status that exposes him to the dangers and abuses of his situation as an undocumented.

Mexico, apart from being a country supplier of undocumented immigrants, is also a transit and destination country for thousands of them who are forced to leave their home countries to seek for better opportunities in the United States. It is also the country that serves as the base for the big international mafias dedicated to exploit undocumented people.

Invisibility, due to the clandestine situation of an undocumented migrant, makes him an easy prey for all kinds of abuse. Migrants are exploited in the country of transit, destination and return, in forced labor in factories, crops fields, domestic service, manufacturing, informal economy, beggary, without any respect for their human and labor rights. They are enslaved and often with the knowledge of the corresponding authorities.

Because, what does the life of an undocumented immigrant matter?

And here’s where the sexual exploitation and trafficking of organs comes into play. Who denounces the disappearance of an immigrant? And that’s how girls, boys, teenagers and women end up in nightclubs, bars and whorehouses where they are sexually exploited, and often, even beaten to death, or end up committing suicide because they are tired of being abused; when they are trafficked as objects for the enjoyment of any abuser who is willing to pay for raping, beating or killing them.

The border areas are suitable places for this type of abuse; they are caught in the south of Mexico and send to the north, and vice versa, they are distributed throughout the country and then sent to others countries. Because their displacement must be done in a clandestine way, so as to evade the migratory authorities, these people run the risk of suffering the barbarism of the exploitation.

Honduran girls, adolescents and women are abducted and used for sexual exploitation when traveling across Mexico. Depending on their age, physiognomy and fitness they are classified for the kind of bordello to which they will be sent. Boys and girls are sent to the tourist areas and to the border with the United States, because it is an area frequented by American and Canadian clients.

Salvadoran women are used for organ trafficking, and Guatemalan women, who mostly belong to the Native Peoples, are used for domestic service.

Boys, adolescents, and young men are used by organized crime to rob other undocumented migrants, also for the collection of extortion payments to merchants. They are used to carry out kidnappings of other migrants; also for the production and sale of drugs. They turn them into hired assassins when the mafias want to eliminate people.

What do the authorities do about it? Not much. Corruption among public officials is associated with organized crime, and it is in detention or migrant care centers where abductions and abuses are carried out. They are the distribution centers. It is there where undocumented migrants are classified by sex, age, ethnicity, nationality, appearance and physical condition for what they will be used.

Mexico is riddle with clandestine graves, and not only of Mexican citizens, a greater percentage of undocumented migrants never make it to the United States, because they are disappeared in their journey through Mexico. When they are no longer useful to organized crime, they are discarded, because they cannot be left alive, then their organs are extracted, and their bodies dissolved with chemicals, burned in barrels of gasoline, or disappeared in clandestine graves.

The fate of Central American and South American migrants in their journey across Mexico is uncertain; few manage to reach the United States.

Following the implementation of the South Border Plan by the United States in Mexico in 2014, which militarizes the territory from the border of the Rio Bravo up to the border of the Usumacinta River in Guatemala, the abuses against migrants in transit have increased due to the freedom the authorities have to prevent undocumented migrants from entering the United States at all costs.

The same is happening in Guatemala and Honduras. As a continuation of the Southern Border Plan, the Maya Chortí Plan is being implemented, which is being bolstered by the Plan Mérida in Mexico, and Plan Alliance for Prosperity in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, these are multimillion-dollar “donations” which the United States is investing to “eradicate” organized crime in the region. This has only served to intensify the violence against migrants in transit by the government authorities of the countries involved.

The issue of trafficking in persons for the purpose of sexual exploitation, labor, beggaring and organ trafficking is a delicate matter, but much more so when it comes to undocumented migrants in transit to whom no country (of origin, transfer, destination and return) respect their human rights. It is for this reason that Casa del Migrante (House of Migrants) has been created, through humanitarian organizations, throughout Mexico to protect and provide the migrants with medical, emotional and legal assistance, either for a return to their country of origin, to stay in Mexico, or to continue to the United States. But it is never enough, human trafficking is a multimillion-dollar business for global mafias.

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Ilka Oliva Corado @ilkaolivacorado contacto@cronicasdeunainquilina.com

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