The San Fernando, Tamaulipas, massacre that took place 6 years ago, was a bloody revelation of the odyssey immigrants endure as they cross Mexico to reach the United States in search of a better life. To this day, much remains to be learned about the events that took the life of 72 people.
In the occasion of this anniversary, the National Human Rights Commission in Mexico City asked the federal authorities to provide security along the migrants’ northbound route to allow them to transit safely and have their human rights guaranteed and respected.
Mexico is a country experiencing first-hand the dangers faced by migrants, and it would be reasonable for it to award the same respect it expects others to give its migrants to those who cross its territory on their way to the U.S.
However, it does not. A number of reports by official and community organizations speak of thousands of Central American immigrants who have disappeared in Mexico during their trek north. Studies indicate that muggings and assaults are perpetrated in almost equal measure by organized crime and the authorities, according to testimonies offered by migrants.
The most troubling part is that, despite all the coverage the massacre received – followed years later by the discovery of clandestine mass graves containing the bodies of 196 migrants murdered by the gang Los Zetas – many questions remain unanswered.
One of the reasons is authorities’ pitiful handling of the San Fernando events. For instance, a year after the massacre, the victims’ belongings and clothes remained strewn in the weeds that grew inside the barn where they were executed. Numerous mistakes were also committed at the scene of the crime, with external examinations and with the forensic analyses performed.
Worse yet, most of the civil servants linked to Los Zetas, the group blamed for the carnage, remain at large. Today, 7 of the 17 police officers singled out as associates and protectors of the narcos on several massacres are behind bars, although their role in the San Fernando killings has yet to be defined.
The crossing of migrants through Mexico is a reality that requires the authorities to take responsibility for their safety. There should be preventive alert systems warning people not to travel through dangerous roads, and crimes against immigrants must be fully investigated to send organized crime a clear signal. Mexico must not forget that its sons and daughters are migrants too.