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Cablegate: Trafficking in Persons Conference in Mexico Lays

VZCZCXRO6521
RR RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHME #3423/01 1721931
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 211931Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1780
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RUEAHLA/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MEXICO 003423

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

FOR WHA/MEX, ALSO FOR G/TIP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL PINR MX
SUBJECT: TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS CONFERENCE IN MEXICO LAYS
OUT CHALLENGES AHEAD

1. (SBU) Summary: With support from U.S. Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (ICE), Mexico's National Commission for
Human Rights (CNDH) and the International Organization for
Migration (IOM) sponsored a comprehensive conference on
trafficking in persons (TIP) in Tapachula, Chiapas, June
14-15. Speakers and attendees ranged from high-level Mexican
federal officials to the directors of local shelters, and
included persons from both Mexico and Guatemala as well as
abroad. The conference succeeded in its objective of bringing
together experts, provoking frank discussion of trafficking,
and establishing a network among officials and academics.
While these steps will contribute to building a stronger
coalition among government and civil society, Mexico needs to
build on this momentum and take the necessary action
reflected in the consensus of the experts who participated in
this conference. End Summary.

A Well-Attended Event with Frank Discussion
-------------------------------------------

2. (U) On June 14 and 15, Poloff attended a conference on TIP
sponsored by CNDH and IOM in Tapachula, which drew more than
200 attendees. These included the Governor of Chiapas,
representatives of the Attorney General's office (PGR), state
and federal offices of CNDH, the Mexican and Guatemalan
police, local NGOs, international consultancies, law schools,
and international organizations. U.S. attendees also
included ICE, USAID, and DOJ. The setting of the conference
in a border city established a sense of immediacy: this
particular corner of Mexico is a bustling crossing point for
migrants, weak on law enforcement, and extremely vulnerable
to trafficking.

3. (U) CNDH President Dr. Jose Luis Soberanes Fernandez spoke
of his organization's (first) official TIP complaint made
recently against two branches of government and involving two
Chinese workers in a Guanajuato factory. Soberanes is a
well-known figure in Mexico, and the CNDH, according to
national opinion polls, is one of the country's most
respected institutions. Chiapas Attorney General Mariano
Herran Salvatti described state reforms carried out to
address TIP (although legal experts mentioned afterwards that
Chiapas still lacks the necessary legal framework).

4. (U) Speakers detailed the challenges facing Mexico
(documented in the 2006 TIP Report), including: the lack of a
federal law against trafficking; insufficient awareness and
sensitivity among the general public; corruption and impunity
among authorities; and the increasing size and sophistication
of criminal organizations and the clandestine nature of
trafficking. Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, chief of the
PGR's organized crime unit, bluntly stated Mexico has a long
way to go in fighting TIP. He noted the lack of a federal
TIP law and national strategy and poor interagency
cooperation. Vasconcelos reiterated his commitment to
overcoming these challenges. The experts often agreed on
remedies, which included passage of the Senate-approved TIP
legislation now pending in the lower house of Congress;
police training, including victim identification; social
services to victims, including medical, social and
psychological assistance; and voluntary repatriation or
reintegration into society, including training and economic
opportunities. Many of these remedies are in place in
various programs in the country: the special federal police
investigative task force established with help from ICE; an
integrated victims assistance program in Nuevo Leon; IOM
shelter and social services; and USAID-sponsored judicial
reform efforts.

The Other Border
----------------

5. (U) Following the conference, a Mexican immigration
official took Poloff on a tour of the nearby Mexico-Guatemala
border. While the formal crossing point was bustling with
activity, the real commercial enterprise seemed to be located
downstream. Using rafts made of inner tubes and plywood,
merchants moved foodstuffs across the river in a
do-it-yourself free trade zone. Federal authorities watched
but did not interfere. According to the Mexican official, a
few kilometers farther downstream Central American (as well
as Brazilian and Cuban) migrants regularly cross into Mexico.
Once past the river, they walk north along the railroad
tracks until they can hop a train or find other means of
transportation north. Immigration officials detain or
otherwise encounter about 500 migrants a day in the Tapachula
region but seemed sure a significantly larger number of

MEXICO 00003423 002 OF 002


migrants were actually moving through the area. It is common
for migrants to be killed or injured jumping the trains.
Rape and robbery are also common perils.

Comment
-------

6. (SBU) This was a successful conference and owed much to
the support provided by ICE. Participants highlighted
effective programs now in place as well as spelling out the
challenges Mexico must overcome to better combat trafficking.
Key among these is clearly the passage of the pending federal
TIP legislation. Traffickers can now only be prosecuted on
TIP-related crimes, such as corruption of minors. Passage of
a comprehensive federal law would not only provide the legal
tools but would increase public awareness of the problem and
send the message that TIP is not to be tolerated. We will
continue our efforts to encourage congressional action on
this important measure.


Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity

GARZA

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