Sr. Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong
Minister of the Interior of Mexico
Sr. Fiscal General
Fernando Valenzuela Pernas
Attorney Gerneral of Tabasco State, Mexico
We are deeply distressed about a series of threatening phone calls to Fray Aurelio Montero Vásquez, a migrants’ rights defender in Tenosique, Tabasco State. The defender and his colleagues in Tabasco state had been recently working on a number of cases of mass kidnappings and sexual violence of migrants.
On November 14 Fray Aurelio Montero Vásquez received a threatening phone call during an emergency meeting with federal investigation authorities discussing recent incidents of kidnappings and sexual violence of migrants in the region close to Tenosique. The caller claimed he was the commander of a major drug cartel. Fray Vásquez passed his telephone to a police chief from the Federal Attorney General´s Office. The caller, thinking he was still talking to Fray Aurelio Montero Vásquez, said “you have gone too far” and demanded 50,000 Mexican pesos or he would attack him. During the meeting the same caller phoned eight times. The authorities were able to track the call to a northern part of Mexico.
The threats occurred the same day that Fray Aurelio Montero Vásquez and other colleagues from La 72 migrants’ shelter in Tenosique presented a legal complaint for the kidnapping of migrants. During the weeks prior, they had reported a spike in the number of cases involving kidnappings and sexual violence against migrants. Fray Tomás González has also been working closely on these cases and had reported security incidents to federal authorities in recent weeks.
On November 16 the state police patrols provided for protection at La 72 shelter failed to properly patrol the area and left the shelter unprotected for a number of hours in the middle of the night and early morning. This is an example of the continued vulnerability of migrants traveling through Mexico.
We are very concerned about Fray Aurelio Montero Vásquez's safety and that of his colleagues. We strongly urge that you
- ensure a prompt, full and impartial investigation into the threats against Fray Aurelio Montero Vasquez and other members of La 72 migrant shelter, and bring those responsible to justice;
- immediately improve the protection provided to the La 72 migrant shelter and the surrounding area in Tenosique because of the wave of crimes reported by the shelter.
Brian J. Stefan-Szittai Christine Stonebraker Martínez