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Cablegate: Ambassador Lagon Applauds Progress, Identifies

VZCZCXRO1445
RR RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHME #0199/01 0251526
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 251526Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0231
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RUEHBE/AMEMBASSY BELIZE 0001
RUEHGT/AMEMBASSY GUATEMALA 3600
RUEHMU/AMEMBASSY MANAGUA 0976
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA 2235
RUEHSJ/AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE 1767
RUEHSN/AMEMBASSY SAN SALVADOR 2500
RUEHTG/AMEMBASSY TEGUCIGALPA 1676

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 MEXICO 000199

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR OES/IHA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: APER ELAB KWMN MX PGOV PHUM PREF PREL SMIG
TBIO
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR LAGON APPLAUDS PROGRESS, IDENTIFIES
OUTSTANDING CHALLENGES ON TIP IN MEXICO

REF: 07 MEXICO 5704

1. Summary: On January 9-12, Ambassador Mark P. Lagon,
Director, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
(G/TIP), met with Mexican immigration officials and NGOs in
Tapachula, Chiapas to discuss trafficking in persons (TIP),
especially with regard to Central Americans entering Mexico.
During Ambassador Lagon's trip to Mexico, he also met with
the Mexican Attorney General, Eduardo Tomas Medina-Mora
Icaza, National Human Rights Commission's (CNDH) Program
Coordinator Against Trafficking in Persons, Dr. Sadot Sanchez
Carreno, National Migration Institute's Commissioner, Cecilia
Romero and representatives from Mexico's Foreign Relations
Secretariat (SRE). Anti-TIP discussions focused on progress

SIPDIS
since Lagon's last visit in August and steps the GOM plans to
take to strengthen efforts to combat TIP in the wake of
Mexico's passage of a new anti-TIP federal law. End Summary.

AMBASSADOR LAGON EXPLORES MEXICO-GUATEMALA BORDER
--------------------------------------------- ----

2. Lax border regulation characterizes much of Mexico's
southern border. Mexican immigration officials told Lagon
that there are segments of the border without security
officials to regulate the flow of products or people into the
country, stressing the need for better technology and
manpower to combat illegal activities. On the other hand,
immigration officials insisted they were committed to
combating the sex and labor trafficking flowing into Mexico
from the South. Mexico's National Migration Institute (INM)
described a plan to issue new work permits (which will
include workers' biographical information) that will be used
to track workers and their employers. This is seen as one
way to address trafficking flows. The new work permits will
allow migration officials to do periodic checks on employers
to ensure that they are following correct hiring procedures.
Cecilia Romero, INM's Commissioner said that the new work
permits are expected to take effect later this year.


CHALLENGES FOR CENTRAL AMERICAN MIGRANTS ENTERING MEXICO
--------------------------------------------- -----------

3. Labor exploitation is one of the biggest concerns for
officials in Tapachula, in the southern part of the State of
Chiapas on Mexico's southwest border with Guatemala. Several
complaints have been filed against farm owners exploiting
Central American guest workers who work on coffee, mango or
sugar cane plantations in southern Mexico. In addition to
labor exploitation, migrants are vulnerable to becoming
victims of sex trafficking, organized crime groups, disease,
and corrupt police officials. Ciudad Talisman and Ciudad
Hidalgo are the two towns in Chiapas that figure most
prominently in the region's sex and labor trafficking
problems:

--Ciudad Talisman located north of Tapachula is the gathering
point for Central Americans looking for work and/or heading
north.

--Ciudad Hidalgo located south of Tapachula is known for
significant numbers of individuals involved in sex
trafficking and prostitution.

4. In addition to challenges involving sex and labor
exploitation, Juan Artola, Chief of Mission at the
International Organization for Migration (IOM) said migration
has caused Dengue Fever to spread throughout Chiapas and that
their organization expects to host a joint conference on
Dengue Fever, Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and migrant health with
the Ministry of Health in the state of Chiapas. Artola
expects to hold the conference later this year. (Comment:
Reftel reported the dengue infection rate to be higher in
Chiapas than in Guatemala, suggesting that the disease is
more endemic to Chiapas than imported. End comment.)

AMBASSADOR LAGON DISCUSSES TIP WITH NGOS in TAPACHULA
--------------------------------------------- --------

5. While in Tapachula, Ambassador Lagon met on January 10
over lunch with NGOs and government officials from Tapachula,

MEXICO 00000199 002 OF 004


Guatemala and El Salvador. TIP represents a major concern
for government officials and NGOs in Tapachula who face a
constant flow of migrants into shelters but with little
resources to support them. Government officials from Central
America and Mexico all agreed that their own officials lack
the resources and training to identify and protect victims.
NGOs said that the lack of proper training limits the
relationship that they have with authorities on TIP issues.
Government officials from Central America concluded their
meeting with Ambassador Lagon requesting USG assistance in
providing training and resources for their countries in
identifying and providing assistance to victims.

AMBASSADOR LAGON TOURS SHELTERS AND INTERVIEWS TIP VICTIM
--------------------------------------------- ------------

6. Ambassador Lagon toured INM detention centers, a TIP
shelter- Casa del Migrante, to learn more about facilities
available for TIP victims. Afterwards, Ambassador Lagon
spoke with a 17-year-old trafficking victim in the course of
his visit. She described in detail how she was a victim of
sexual abuse and internal sex trafficking from Tapachula.
With great anguish, the victim recounted how family friends
had placed her into contact with a local woman who offered
her a job in a bar. Once separated from her family, the
victim was isolated, beaten, raped and forced to have sex
with different men, including the woman's husband. Still
suffering from the severe trauma of this experience, the
victim is now assisting with the prosecution of her case and
receiving assistance from IOM.


COMMISSIONER OPTIMISTIC BUT RECOGNIZES CHALLENGES AHEAD
--------------------------------------------- ----------

7. INM's Commissioner, Cecilia Romero, used her meeting
with Lagon to highlight efforts to address TIP over the last
six months and possible future challenges in the wake of
Mexico's newly adopted anti-TIP law. Although Romero seemed
optimistic about the law and the number of migration
officials trained, she was honest about the amount of work
Mexico needs to do in order to ensure that the law
effectively addresses TIP. Romero identified the following
challenges Mexico faces in making progress in combating TIP:
lack of funds to support the new law, insufficient public
awareness about the issue, and under-trained law enforcement
officials to address the psychological needs of a TIP victim.
Lagon applauded the GOM's adoption of the new law and
stressed that the U.S. was here "to help" Mexico. Romero
ended the meeting by saying that she hopes to obtain more
help in training agents on identifying and providing services
to victims of trafficking.

SRE SEEKS TO INTERNATIONALIZE TIP
------------------------------

8. SRE's Under Secretary for North America, Carlos Rico,
described the State Department's Annual Report on TIP as an
"irritant." Mexico sought to address TIP not because of
criticism registered in the report but out of genuine concern
about the problem. Rico sought to draw attention to efforts
the U.S. could assume to better address the two countries'
shared responsibilities in combating trafficking. To that
end, he expressed concern about Mexican citizens exploited in
the U.S. and expressed Mexico's interest in working
collaboratively to identify and assist them. He also
welcomed cooperation with U.S. authorities in developing a
concrete joint action plan as well as joint efforts to
address TIP on international fora including OAS and the UN.
Lagon stressed the importance he attached to a
victim-centered approach to tackling TIP. He praised Mexico
for passing a strong anti-TIP law; the challenge now was to
implement the law including identifying proper resources and
creating a vetted unit to investigate, prosecute and convict
traffickers.

CNDH EXPRESS CONCERN OVER 2008 TIER RANKING
-------------------------------------------

9. On January 11, Ambassador Lagon met with Dr. Sadot
Sanchez Carreno, Coordinator for the Trafficking in Persons

MEXICO 00000199 003 OF 004


Program at CNDH, to discuss the creation of new TIP working
groups within CNDH. Sanchez used the meeting to highlight
the accomplishments made since the last TIP report insisting
that the 2007 TIP Report was incorrect. Sanchez committed
the organization to becoming more involved with TIP in the
future and urged that the USG work closely with the
Commission when drafting future TIP reports.


AMBASSADOR LAGON and ATTORNEY GENERAL ADDRESS PREVENTION,
PROTECTION AND PROSECUTIONS
--------------------------------------------- ----------

10. In a cordial meeting with Mexican Attorney General,
Eduardo Medina Mora, Ambassador Lagon, received updates on
three major anti-trafficking developments in Mexico: recent
enactment of a new federal anti-trafficking law; a Mexican
Congressional appropriation of $7 million USD to open a
trafficking shelter for women and children; and designation
of the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes Related to
Acts of Violence Against Women (FEVIM) as the lead on
anti-TIP cases within PGR. The Attorney General said that
Mexico's Public Security Secretariat (SSP) expects to follow
a European police model and assign female police officers to
trafficking cases in order to build more trust with victims.

--PREVENTION:

AG Medina Mora highlighted the enactment of the new federal
law against trafficking in persons. Ambassador Lagon
applauded Mexico on the passage of the new law while pointing
out that more work needs to be done.


--WITNESS PROTECTION:

Ambassador Lagon expressed concern about limiting the
proposed trafficking shelter to women and minors, since it
would exclude adult male victims, who are typically victims
of labor trafficking. In regards to shelters, AG Medina Mora
responded that adult males do not face the same kinds of
risks as women and children further anticipating that the new
shelter will open before the end of 2008. Medina Mora also
indicated that the GOM may utilize several properties
confiscated from drug-traffickers, but that the effort is
still in the design stage. A shelter may be opened
provisionally until a permanent location can be found, and
centers for victim assistance may be opened as well.

--PROSECUTIONS:

GOM officials noted the shared problem of sex tourism between
Mexico and the U.S., and that Mexico is prosecuting more
cases along its northern border. Ambassador Lagon noted his
concern about U.S. nationals engaging in sex tourism in
Mexico, and expressed his appreciation for the tremendous
day-to-day cooperation between the two nations, particularly
in the area of law enforcement. Ambassador Lagon continued
to stress the importance of gathering better data on TIP
cases to better understand the scope of the problem as well
as actions taken at the local level to address it. He
stressed the importance of cooperation between federal, state
and local prosecutors. In response, AG Medina Mora discussed
the creation of a vetted unit and providing training
specifically for TIP within the Special Prosecutor's Office
for Violence Against Women (FEVIM). He said that the GOM is
initiating information sharing between PGR and state attorney
generals.


NGO EXPRESS SUPPORT FOR TIP
---------------------------

11. In a meeting with Mario Luis Fuentes, Director of
CEIDAS (Centro de Estudios e Investigacion en Desarrollo y
Asistencia Social), a G/TIP sub-grantee, Fuentes conveyed his
concern that financial resources have not been set aside in
Mexico's 2008 budget to implement the new federal anti-TIP
law, particularly in terms of training government officials
and developing data to research and analyze the scope of the
problem in-country. Moreover, a government lead for the new

MEXICO 00000199 004 OF 004


law's interagency committee has not yet been named, so the
committee is not operating. Fuentes further noted his
concerns about the inability of the current judicial system
to process TIP cases, and indicated that Mexico's new
anti-TIP law is a "lame duck" without judicial reform. He
stressed the need for training judicial officials about the
new law, in addition to training on effective victim
protection techniques and reintegrating TIP victims back into
society. Fuentes also recommended that Mexico develop
"minimum norms" for constructing victim shelters applicable
to both the government and NGOs, in addition to conducting
research on whether drug trafficking networks are being used
to move TIP victims. Fuentes suggested that the USG expand
the "best practices" section of the annual TIP report, and
that USG outreach be conducted in this area. Fuentes told
Ambassador Lagon about two future projects: developing a
report about the anti-trafficking efforts of Mexico's 32
states, similar to the USG's annual TIP report, which is
planned for release in December 2008 and working with
high-school and university students to raise anti-TIP
awareness and build leadership capacity.

12. COMMENT: Lagon's visit to the southern border
reinforced the challenges local officials face in combating
trafficking given Mexico's meager resources, under-trained
officials, and weak structures. Mexican government officials
were optimistic about the passage of the new law but
recognized the challenges ahead. Continued U.S. support --
political, technical, and financial -- is vital. Mexico has
demonstrated its commitment by adopting its new law. For the
law to realize its full potential however, officials will
need to identify more resources to assist victims and the
political will to prosecute and convict victims.


Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity and the North American
Partnership Blog at http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap /
GARZA

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