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Padre Alejandro Solalinde Guerra on "A Peaceful Revolution of Footsteps: Human Rights and Central American Migration through Mexico"

Friday, February 17, 2012, 11:00 a.m.

Auditorium of King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center, 53 Washington Square South, New York University, New York, NY 10012 (map)

11:00am – 12:30pm: A talk with Padre Solalinde
1:00 – 2:30pm: Panel discussion with Luisa Heredia (NYU), Alyshia Galvez (Lehman College), Shamina de Gonzaga (Co-founder of what moves you?), and Gala Narezo (Co-founder of what moves you?)

Padre Alejandro Solalinde Guerra is a Catholic priest, the coordinator of the Pastoral of Human Mobility for Mexico’s South Pacific Region and founder of Hermanos en el Camino migrant shelter in Ixtepec, Oaxaca. Padre Alejandro began his mission with migrants, when the conditions facing hundreds of thousands of Central American people riding trains northward through Mexico to the United States each year came to his attention. These men, women and children travel undocumented in the most desperate conditions, extraordinarily vulnerable to criminal predation. As he witnessed the intensification of violence directed at migrants in transit from criminal gangs and corrupt authorities, Padre Alejandro became convinced of the necessity to establish refuge in Ixtepec, Oaxaca, in southern Mexico, a critical juncture for routes north through the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. The ‘Hermanos en el Camino’ migrant shelter opened its doors in 2007, joining a system of over fifty shelters and food kitchens that have emerged along the unauthorized migratory route to the United States.

Since that time, the shelter has become a frontline in the fight against increasingly organized and brutal attacks on undocumented Central American migrants in transit through Mexico; the National Human Rights Committee of Mexico (CNDH) estimates that over 11,000 migrants were kidnapped in Mexico in a six-month period in 2010. U.S.-based family members of migrants receive ransom demands, and migrants without family members to pay these demands may be killed or trafficked into forced labor. Other migrants simply disappear without a trace during the journey.

In this context, the shelter provides a short respite from danger. It provides food, access to hygiene products and facilities, medical care, legal support to victims of crimes, a place to leave behind important information for family members in the event that migrants disappear during their journey, and spiritual support. The shelter also engages in activism on behalf of the migrants and human rights. It became the staging ground for numerous protests, and launched Padre Alejandro into the national political fight against abuses of human rights in Mexico. Because of this activism, Padre Alejandro has endured many death threats, and he has been spotlighted on the Amensty International Urgent Action List. Nonetheless, he continues his work without fear, convinced that he has found a mission from Jesus in service to the migrants.

Visit the Hermanos en el Camino website