About Secret History

Commentary on Latin America.
Mostly about Mexico - but not always.
Designed to encourage readers to learn about
the apparently "secret history" of 500 million people
spread across two continents
- but not always.
You can always count on a little snark.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Happy Birthday, Belen - Now Go Away?

Belén Posada del Migrante is six-years old today (well, close enough). The program shelters and cares for mostly Central American and South American immigrants headed for the U.S. Located in Saltillo, Mexico, it has cared for nearly 50 thousand migrants, many of whom have traveled north on the tops of trains - one of the most dangerous and violent immigrant paths in the world.

Their arrival in Saltillo, however, has been less than heralded by the local population, and organized crime has often taken advantage of the immigrants by kidnapping them and extorting their families or just outright robbing and beating them. Back in July the coordinator of the house, Father Pedro Pantoja made public declarations against the treatment of the immigrants in the shelter and by November he was receiving numerous threats of violence against the program, the staff, and himself. The response of the Catholic Church was to back Pantoja and reinforce the legitimacy of the religious participation in an endeavor to care for "illegal aliens."

Well, here we have the Catholic Church clearly involved in a political issue of great importance to the people of Saltillo. Any invitations for the church to get out of politics on this one? What happens when local PAN candidates call for the control of migrants passing through Saltillo - will the church have taken a stand against a party? There seems a desire to pick and choose the political and human rights issues on which the Catholic Church can and cannot take a stand.

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