GUATEMALA CITY – The 43 Guatemalan migrants detained in the Mexican city of Reynosa were not kidnapped and had been staying voluntarily at the house where they were found, the Guatemalan Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.
The Guatemalan consul in Tijuana, Jimena Diaz, has interviewed five of the migrants, who said they “were waiting for the ‘coyotes’ (people traffickers) to take them into the United States,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Andrea Furlan told Efe.
The Guatemalan migrants – 11 women and 32 men – are at the Mexican immigration service station in Reynosa, just across the border from McAllen, Texas, Furlan said.
“We expect that they will be repatriated in an orderly fashion at the end of this week,” Furlan said.
Army troops rescued the Guatemalans and several Mexicans being held hostage at a house in Reynosa, the Mexican Defense Secretariat said.
An estimated 250,000 Central Americans cross Mexico each year on their way to the United States, but academic researchers contend that the figure has fallen markedly because of the kidnappings and attacks on migrants.
President Felipe Calderon said Tuesday that Mexico must “improve much more in the treatment of migrants.”
Calderon spoke following the presentation of a report by National Human Rights Commission, or CNDH, president Raul Plascencia.
Mexico registered numerous cases last year of human rights violations, including “mass murders and kidnappings, like the ones that occurred in the states of Tamaulipas (where 72 Latin American migrants were murdered) and Oaxaca (where 30 Central Americans were kidnapped),” Plascencia said.
The CNDH, Mexico’s equivalent of an ombudsman’s office, says up to 20,000 migrants were kidnapped in 2010 by organized crime groups, which recruit the migrants as gunmen or demand the payment of ransom by relatives.
Mexico recently launched the Unified Strategy for Preventing and Combating the Kidnapping of Migrants, a program aimed at dismantling the gangs that prey on migrants and forming alliances with other countries affected by this problem, Calderon said.
Soldiers arrested two people and seized four suitcases containing 102 kilos of cocaine in a separate operation in Reynosa.
The cocaine had a street value of approximately $1.2 million, the Defense Secretariat said. EFE