One of Mexico’s most outspoken advocates for migrants rights has announced he will temporarily leave the country due to repeated death threats. The news of Father Alejandro Solalinde’s plans came as a heavy blow to the morale of Mexico’s community of human rights activists.
For years, the outspoken priest has operated a shelter in Oaxaca, Mexico for mostly Central American migrants on their way north. He’s witnessed an increase in the dangers associated with the trek as organized crime has taken over immigrant smuggling routes and has spoken candidly about corrupt officials who have allowed criminals to develop a presence in the area.
(audio: Alejandro Solalinde speaks in press conference, reporter interprets)
In a Mexico City press conference, Father Solalinde told reporters that the decision to leave the country temporarily came as a result of orders from his superiors in the church as well as from a series of recent death threats. He characterized the situation in Oaxaca as a state of impunity in which criminals and corrupt officials are working together to leave migrants as unprotected as possible.
Father Solalinde’s shelter is located along a key route used by migrants who move via Mexico’s freight train network. He has documented and publicized cases of mass kidnappings of migrants and has worked closely with Central American organizations formed by relatives of persons who have gone missing while crossing Mexican territory.
Father Solalinde says he will use his time abroad to speak publicly about the dangers faced by migrants in Mexico.
[Transcript of headline produced for May 17, 2012 morning broadcast of CBC News "World Report"]