Catholic Priest in Mexico Under Attack for Aiding Migrants
Thousands of Central and South American immigrants passing through Mexico have been kidnapped, and sometimes even murdered. Father Alejandro Solalinde Guerra, Catholic priest and director of thePastoral de Movilidad Humana Pacifico Sur del Episcopado Mexicano (Catholic Pastoral Care Centre for Migrants in Southwestern Mexico), has been under attack for dedicating his life to sheltering migrants from the criminal gangs who exploit and abuse them. On December 16, 2010, a group of allegedly 20-50 migrants was dragged off a train and disappeared. On December 22, another group of migrants was similarly captured.
In the aftermath, Father Solalinde reported that gunmen from two powerful gangs, the Zetas from Mexico and the Mara Salvatrucha from El Salvador and Central America, threatened him to give up the migrants that managed to escape to his shelter following the December 16 occurrence. Father Solalinde has already filed a report with the Office of Special Investigations on Organized Crime (SIEDO) in Mexico, holding state authorities and the gangs in Mexico directly responsible for the mass kidnappings. His public denouncement of Mexican officials’ treatment of irregular migrants, and his willingness to identify the members of the various crime organizations involved, have made him increasingly vulnerable to further attacks. He has since filed a petition for protection with the Attorney General’s Office in Mexico.
Despite his numerous reports and petition for protection, the Mexican government has been deplorably slow to react. As a result, Amnesty International issued an Urgent Action to put pressure on authorities to investigate the incident and provide Father Solalinde with adequate protection. Prior to this call to action, Amnesty International and Mexican actor and producer Gael García Bernal produced “Los Invisibles (The Invisibles)”, a series of short films that record the journey of hundreds of migrants from the border between Guatemala and Mexico on their way to the United States. Father Solalinde collaborated with the production and is featured prominently.
On February 16, 2011, upon the recommendation of University of Notre Dame's Prize for Distinguished Public Service in Latin America winner, Mr. Cuatémoc Cárdenas, the matching prize will be donated to Father Solalinde's Albergue de Migrantes "Hermanos en el Camino". Global Workers joins other distinguished leaders in congratulating Father Solalinde on this recent Kellog Institute prize. Read more...