'A Holy Nuisance'

6DSC_0190 copy 2Now up on our homepage is a short web-only article about Padre Alejandro Solalinde, a priest who runs a shelter for Central American migrants in Ixtepec, Oaxacam, in southern Mexico. Padre Alejandro recently had to leave Mexico because of death threats from people who could lose a lot of money if the Mexican authorities started taking better care of migrants. Joseph Sorrentino writes:

Kidnapping is a huge business for drug gangs and local thugs: ransoms start at $1,500. Mexicos National Human Rights Commission estimates that in the period between April and September 2010 there were more than 210 mass kidnappings of migrants, with more than 11,000 victims.Padre Alejandro is a threat to the kidnappers lucrative business, and theyve noticed. When we spoke in February, he acknowledged the dangers of the work he does. We are always receiving threats, he said. Not just me. There are more than fifty shelters for migrants.... We are like a collective and are damaging the interests of drug dealers, corrupt politicians, and corrupt corporations. It took some convincing, but Padre Alejandro finally accepted bodyguards; he also agreed to travel with a driver (a man named Reubn who is a former policeman). Four state police guarded the shelter while I was there, but Padre Alejandro knew he would never be completely safe as long as he continued his work. I dont believe that the police can protect my life, he told me.

Read the whole thing here.

Matthew Boudway is senior editor of Commonweal.

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