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72 dead migrants found in Mexico tip of iceberg

[ 2010-09-02 11:19]     字号 [] [] []  
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Paula Cruz wept quietly at the foreign ministry office in El Salvador's capital after reporting that her son was missing - and apparently kidnapped - in Mexico.

"I got a call asking me to send $2,500 to ransom him," the 77-year-old said, clutching the last letter she received from her 43-year-old son.

"I didn't have the money," she added. "I don't know if he is alive or dead."

Cruz fears her son may have been among the 72 migrants found shot to death in northern Mexico last week. She is one of hundreds who have streamed to government offices in Central America after news of the massacre spread, searching for information about their relatives who went missing after setting out through Mexico hoping to reach the US.

In the overwhelming majority of cases, family members' descriptions did not match the bullet-ridden bodies found in heaps at a ranch in the state of Tamaulipas.

More disturbingly, according to human rights activists, however, the total number of migrants missing traversing Mexico may be part of a larger toll of hundreds - perhaps even thousands - of people killed by criminal gangs and whose bodies may have been hacked up, dissolved in acid or simply buried.

The true number of undocumented migrants killed in Mexico in recent years may never be known, but they would almost certainly dwarf the number discovered last week. Starkly, Mexico's National Human Rights Commission, has chronicled witness accounts of 198 mass kidnappings involving 9,758 victims in a six month-period in 2009.

Activists say drug cartels like Mexico's Zetas - the gang blamed in the recent Tamaulipas massacre just south of Texas - frequently kill one or two from each migrant group to frighten the rest into asking relatives to meet ransom demands.

So far, only 21 bodies found at the massacre site have been identified as Hondurans; 19 are of other nationalities; 32, meanwhile, remain unidentified.


1. How much was the ransom?

2. How many migrants were killed?

3. How many bodies remain unidentified?


1. $2,500.

2. 72.

3. 32.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

72 dead migrants found in Mexico tip of iceberg

About the broadcaster:

72 dead migrants found in Mexico tip of iceberg

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.