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#14463 - 01/26/02 04:08 AM Rape and abuse on the Mexican border
susangg Offline
The following messages was posted to the bz-culture list by a very reliable listmember, a Belizean businesswoman from Caye Caulker, relaying what happened to her sisters on a trip to Chetumal.
Until the Mexican government has fired and arrested the perpetrator, apologized to these young women and announced its intent to take measures to prevent similar abuse of power by Mexican police in the future, we should all BOYCOTT Mexico. It is not safe for women to travel there, apparently and we should all act accordingly.
Here's the message, verbatim:

On a planned trip to Tulum (from Belize) over the weekend, two Auxillou girls, Tina and Diane had their Belize passports stamped with the 48 hour visa (to get to Chetumal). Unknown to them, this stamp only allowed them as far as Bacalar. They boarded the bus to Tulum and at the immigration checkpoint at Carillo (6 hrs from Chetumal), they were stopped and taken off the bus (immigration violation).

They were put to sit on the side of the road surrounded by armed guards for four or five hours while the Federale on duty repeatedly asked them for sex. He wanted to take them to a hotel in Carillo to perform the dastardly deed. They, of course, refused. After several hours of being harassed with the same request, Tina offered the Federale 500 pesos to send them back to Chetumal or the border. The Federale refused.

After being worn down for four hours with the same request, Diane then demanded the Federales' badge number and name and threatened to report the incident to the Belize Embassy in Chetumal and the Mexican Embassy in Belize. Bad move! They immediately bussed them down to Chetumal and threw them in jail. Yes jail. They spent the night in jail. No food, no anything. Go directly to jail.

At ten the next morning, they were told they would be released and deported back to Belize, with the understanding that they could not come back into Mexico for 90 days. They also made them read a report written by the same Federale saying that Tina had tried to bribe the Federale, and Diane had behaved uncooperative and that Diane had said to them that she would report the case to the Embassy as a sex case even though (hic!) no such thing happened. They also asked them to sign a piece of paper stating that no immoral conduct on the part of the Federale occurred.

Tina, being tired, hungy and faint, signed the paper. She just wanted to go home. Diane, being the strongly moral person that she is - broke into tears but refused to sign the paper.

They were thrown in jail again.

Time and time again they requested to see one superior after another and relayed their story, only to have it passed on to another higher authority. No one believed them.

Finally, about five in the evening (24 hours after being taken off the bus and with no food during the entire 24 hours), Diane reluctantly agreed to sign the papers. She did, sobbing loudly, but she did.

Now it was time for the Chief Honcho to come in and sign the deportation orders for the two. He came in, read the reports, and inquired of them who was Tina. Tina revealed herself. "What's this about a 500 peso bribe to my Federale the Chief Honcho inquired?" Tina sighed. They had repeated the story at least ten times before. "Do you really want to hear the whole story?" she asked. "Yes, the Chief Honcho replied."

"Well, Tina proceeded, after four hours of being harassed for sex, I did offer the man the 500 pesos. I'd much rather give him money than my body." She proceed with the story and the harassment that took place.

Then and there, the Chief Honcho tore up the file the wayward Federale had written, and took down the reports of Diane and Tina instead. He (Someone, finally) believed them. Twenty four hours after they were taken off the bus in Carillo, they were let off without prejudice and the girls quickly took the next bus home to Belize.

Maybe there is justice after all, albeit a little late sometimes.
_________________________
Susan Guberman-Garcia, Attorney at Law. Phone: 510-792-2639
Fax/Voicemail:: 510-405-2016 Email: susangg@garcia.mpowermail.com

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#14464 - 01/26/02 05:51 AM Re: Rape and abuse on the Mexican border
kimberly matson Offline
Susan, I am horrified but not wholly surprised. I have heard many stories (third and fourth hand) from many tourists (mostly female Americans) that are similar. I have been to Mexico once in the twenty years or so since I started travelling out of the US. I never had any problems, myself. However, along with reports I had from other women, I just didn't have a good feeling about Mexico. Never felt safe.
Question is; besides a boycott (since I never go to Mexico anyway) what else can be done collectively? Kim Matson

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#14465 - 01/26/02 07:22 PM Re: Rape and abuse on the Mexican border
Rocio Offline
Susan, I too am concerned about the story, I am thankful that the girls escaped physical harm. Living here in Mexico, I too, from time to time hear about abuse and misuse of power. What took place was wrong!

I don't want argue the facts of what is said, but I want point out that there are some things that don't compute....., (1) A 6 hour bus ride from Chetumal, would put you near Merida, well beyond Cancun, Playa del Carmen(1 hour north of Tulum), yet along Tulum, which is less that 4 hours from Chetumal. (2) There is a immmigration check point at Bacalar(less than 30 minutes from Chetumal), operated by armed federal agents, both immigration and military, where buses are boarded and papers are check. (3) There is also a military check point just south of Felipe Carillo Puerto(FCP). This check point is normally for illegal goods, have never been asked for passport or visa. There is an office for the Federal Police of Highways and Ports (PFCyP) less than 200 yards from this check point. To my knowledge there is no Mexican Immigration rep. in FCP, these girls should have been returned to the Chetumal area as soon as possible, since this was a immigration issue.

Susan, similar things, even worst have taken place recently in Belize, not only to tourist but to nationals also, I read the Belizean newspapers, I do not hear anyone on this board screaming to boycott Belize.

Since you and others are no doubt concerned as I am, I urge you to contact your cloest the Mexican Government Tourist Office, there is on in LA, and the closest Mexican Consulate Office, you have one in SFO. Also contact the Belize Tourist Offices and Consulate asking for an investigation and a follow up report to be sent you.

I will try to get you e-mail address of state tourist offices and government offices here in Q.Roo. I know the governor of Q.Roo., will call for an investigation that will not be "white washed".

Sincerely......

Rocio

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#14466 - 01/26/02 08:19 PM Re: Rape and abuse on the Mexican border
susangg Offline
Thank you, I would love to have that info, (as would others I am sure), as some of the contact emails I have been given are incorrect. I know the family has contacted people to complain, but I am not sure who they contacted. Everyone who reads this should also communicate with the Mexican government to express outrage and demand justice.
As far as calling for a boycott is concerned, the comparison with crimes in Belize is just not the same. While there have been some well publicized crimes against tourists in Belize, the crimes were not perpetuated by armed agents of the Belize government...while here, there was an attempted rape (and demand for sex at gunpoint and threat of jail IS rape) by Mexican federal police. The police ARE the government and if the Mexican government fails to take swift and severe action, a boycott of that country is quite appropriate until they do. They must demonstrate, in a public way, that they will ensure that women traveling to their country will not be harmed in this manner.
I am a big believer in the power of the boycott. We The People do have the power to demand change, and we can "vote" with our dollars. A country that wants our dollars must not allow its police to to engage in rape and abuse of the very people who are spending those dollars. (and that includes both Americans and Belizeans...)
_________________________
Susan Guberman-Garcia, Attorney at Law. Phone: 510-792-2639
Fax/Voicemail:: 510-405-2016 Email: susangg@garcia.mpowermail.com

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#14467 - 01/28/02 12:22 AM Re: Rape and abuse on the Mexican border
davem Offline
This would be a horrible situation to be in. At the mercy of government officials is the worst place to be, especially evil ones. I'm glad that it worked out in the end, and that a reasonable person ended up making the final decision.

I do disagree with you in many regards, however, Susan. Belizeans do know how far into Mexico they can go without the proper visas - when I was there my Belizean friends all knew to go to Embassy if they were going any further into Mexico than Bacalar. And I saw a few Belizeans (men and women) pulled off of buses at that immigration checkpoint - other Belizeans on the bus always commented how "they didn't get their visa," etc.

And in terms of how Belizean public officials treat visitors, I find that you are fine as long as you don't come from a neighbouring country. The rules change, especially for individual Guatemalans, and Belizean officials can be as self-serving and ruthless as that Federale when dealing with other Central Americans (and Mexicans) - I've seen it myself.

It is terrible what happened to those girls you wrote of. However, I think that Belize should start cleaning house itself before we end up having to boycott it (under your rules).

Just my $0.02.

Dave

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#14468 - 01/28/02 01:07 AM Re: Rape and abuse on the Mexican border
susangg Offline
Sorry Dave, you don't get it.

This is not about inconvenience. Getting turned back on a trip is an inconvenience (an unacceptable one if a clerk made a mistake but still, an inconvenience.)

Being thrown in jail and threatened with staying there indefinitely and being kept there for 24 hours with no food or water because you refused to have sex with a federal cop is not an inconvenience. It is a CRIME and an ATROCITY. A demand for sex under threat of jail is attempted RAPE. And apparently, this cop was aided and abetted by his fellow officers, since nobody intervened. Do you think this is the first time he has pulled this? I doubt it.

How would you feel if it was you (or your son), and the cop had a different orientatin and told you to bend over or stay in jai? Would it still be just an inconvenience? Is it only an inconvenience because it happened to two women?

I have yet to hear of any Belizean border cop engaging in this conduct, so its not a matter of "Belize cleaning its own house."

Nobody "has" to do anything, but I am asking those who read this to let the Mexican government know that you won't go there (or send your clients there if you are a travel agent) until this atrocity is resolved by a firing, a criminal prosecution and an apology.

These happen (usually to women) because they are allowed to happen. If enough people make a big stink it will stop happening.
_________________________
Susan Guberman-Garcia, Attorney at Law. Phone: 510-792-2639
Fax/Voicemail:: 510-405-2016 Email: susangg@garcia.mpowermail.com

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#14469 - 01/28/02 05:09 AM Re: Rape and abuse on the Mexican border
kmatson Offline
Susan: Well said!

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#14470 - 01/30/02 03:36 AM Re: Rape and abuse on the Mexican border
susangg Offline
It looks like the Mexican government plans to do something about this incident. This message, sent to the father of the two women who were victimized in this incident, was posted to the bz-culture listerv today:

Dear Mr. Auxilou:

I am pleased to inform you that the Ministry of the Interior, through the National Institute of Immigration, has begun an administrative procedure against Mr. Gilberto Sanchez Gomez, the official who apparently committed the offence against your daughters. The procedure was prompted by the report filed by your daughters at the Office of the National Institute of Immigration in Chetumal. Your letter has been added to the materials which will serve to substantiate the claim against the said officer.

I would be glad to send you by fax, a copy of the official report that was sent to us concerning the incident. Please send me your number.

Once more, I assure you that the Mexican Government is taking decisive steps in order to eliminate the abuse of authority by officials. We encourage all persons who experience such abuses to denounce them as soon as possible.

Sincerely,


Arturo Trejo
Ambassador
_________________________
Susan Guberman-Garcia, Attorney at Law. Phone: 510-792-2639
Fax/Voicemail:: 510-405-2016 Email: susangg@garcia.mpowermail.com

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#14471 - 01/30/02 05:51 AM Re: Rape and abuse on the Mexican border
kmatson Offline
this is a step (one of many needed) in the right direction. I am very interested in hearing if they follow through. Please keep us posted on developments. Until I hear more, I am discouraging anyone I know from travelling to Mexico. Like you, I feel very strongly about this.

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