E. Eduardo Castillo, AP, December 13, 2006
Mexican President Felipe Calderon acknowledged Wednesday that many of the illegal migrants from Central and South America who pass through Mexico on their way to the United States are abused by criminals and by authorities.
Pledging to ensure that the rights of Mexicans abroad are protected, he also acknowledged responsibility for migrants in Mexico.
“Just as we demand respect for the human rights of our countrymen, we have the ethical and legal responsibility to respect the human rights and the dignity of those who come from Central and South America and who cross our southern border,” Calderon said during the presentation of human rights awards to several Mexican activists.
The number of undocumented migrants detained in Mexico rose from 138,061 in 2002 to 240,269 in 2005. Forty-two percent were Guatemalan, 33 percent Honduran and most of the rest Salvadoran.
Calderon also reiterated a promise to work toward strengthening the economy so that Mexico “is not the origin of migration, but soon the destination for investment.”
The president, who took office on Dec. 1, has promised to follow up on the promise of his predecessor, Vicente Fox, to pursue an accord with the United States that would allow millions of Mexicans to legally enter and work north of the border.
Calderon, a native of central state of Michoacan, which sends a large number of migrants to the U.S. each year, noted that “like many . . . I have cousins, uncles, in-laws who are undocumented and live in the United States.”