Back in November, Central American RAN Coordinator Marylou Noble brought copies of letters to the Group 48 meeting that were addressed to the Mexican authorities in regards to the treatment of migrants in north-eastern Mexico. The meeting attendees gladly signed the letters and Marylou put them into the mail. About a month later, several members of Group 48 received letters of reply from the Mexican authorities. This is really rare. It is so rare that group’s founder, Jane Kristof commented this is only the third time she received a reply from government authorities in over 30 years of volunteering for Amnesty International.
The letter writing effort was in response to an Urgent Action issued by Amnesty International. The content of the original letter, dated on November 13, 2009 is as follows:
It has come to my attention that undocumented migrants in north-eastern Mexico have received repeated threats. The migrants staying at the Belen Migrants shelter and the staff working there are in danger.
On 11 October, a group of about 12 individuals destroyed the electrical meter for the shelter, leaving it without power. On 25 October, another group threw stones at the shelter, smashed several of the windows, and destroyed the electricity transformer.
Since 14 October, three staff members have received anonymous phone calls at the office and at home between 2 and 5 AM. Priest Pedro Pantoja Arreola, who operates the Belen Migrants shelter, has received a total of ten phone calls during the night and early morning hours in which the caller offers vulgar insults and advises him “to do something else”.
Although the shelter has filed two complaints with the State Prosecutor’s Office, no investigation has been initiated nor has protection been provided. The State Prosecutor’s Office has suggested closing the shelter.
As a member of Amnesty International, I am writing to express concern for the safety of those working at the Belen Migrants’ shelter. I am calling on the authorities to conduct a full and prompt investigation into the attack on 25 October and into the threats against its workers. I further ask that the authorities adopt, without delay, effective protection measures to ensure the safety of those working at the Belen Migrants’ Shelter.
Finally, I would ask the authorities to recognize the important and legitimate work of the shelter in providing humanitarian assistance to migrants.
Your attention to my concerns will be greatly appreciated.
The response letter can be viewed here. Long-time member of Group 48, Cornelia Cerf provided a brief translation of the response:
In answer to your letter of 13 November, enclosed is a copy of the agreements reached 3 November at a meeting in Saltillo, Coahuila by officials of the three government services.
With the aim of carrying out the preventive measures ordered by the National Commission of Human Rights in regard to the Belem Center Migrant Shelter, the following resolutions are presented:
1. Facilitate telephone communication between the beneficiaries and the Federal and State authorities.
2. Install an urban chamber near the Migrant House to monitor the area.
3. Form a permanent police presence in the house by the State police, later coordinated with Municipal and Federal authorities. Those responsible for surveillance will be identified and in communication with the beneficiaries.
4. Work to promote equality, prevent discrimination and protect migrants.
5. The beneficiaries will be able to present complaints to the organization CONAPRED.
6. The State Government will facilitate a meeting between the beneficiaries and the State Human Rights Commission.
7. The P.G.R. will work as much as possible in coordination with the state authorities.
The exchange of letters reinforces our belief that our work for human rights matters. You can join us by attending our monthly meetings. Please visit the Meetings section of this website for more details. If you are not able to attend the meetings, please check out our newsletters which always contain letter writing actions you can participate from home.