Last week, the news of a massacre that took place in the northern region of Mexico shook the Latin American population. On August 25, authorities found 72 immigrants murdered three days previous in Tamaulipas, Mexico, by the criminal group, Los Zetas. Los Zetas are former Special Forces of the Mexican army who – at one time – were trained by the United States, Israel and France. These highly trained individuals were once recruited by very powerful criminal organizations that specialize in kidnappings, extortions, assassinations and drug trafficking. Today they form their own criminal organization, focusing on illegal drug trafficking. From accounts of the few survivors, the immigrants were murdered by Los Zetas because they refused to work as assassins for $4,000 per month. Out of the 72 immigrants brutally murdered, 14 were women and 58 were men. The victims have now been identified and repatriated to Brazil, Ecuador, El Salvador and Honduras. The horrible massacre of these individuals has caused horror, indignation and rejection from not only the countries who are mourning their countrymen, but also the rest of the world.
Out of the 72 who were viciously and systematically murdered, 23 were Honduran. Most of the bodies have been repatriated to Honduras and delivered to their families.
The evening news has been filled with reports of various funerals and burials. On September 8th the Mexican authorities reported that besides the one Ecuadorian survivor, there was also one Honduran survivor but his information was withheld for his security. The Mexican authorities also informed that the investigating prosecutor of this massacre and the security secretary of the Tamaulipas department were found dead yesterday morning. The authorities suspect Los Zetas are responsible for their deaths.
Even diplomatic relations between Honduras and Ecuador have been strained as a result of this event. The Honduran secretary of state, Canahuati, and the president of Ecuador, Correa, got into a huge discussion because Correa gave out information about the one Honduran survivor. The information regarding this survivor had been kept secret to protect him from any actions Los Zetas might take against him. Canahuati called Correa irresponsible and thoughtless for disclosing that information. The president of Honduras has been working to calm both parties down, since both keep making comments and remarks about each other to the international press. Luckily, this survivor is being protected by the Honduran police force and his information is not being disclosed to local or international medias.
Adelante clients have been affected by this massacre as well. Many of the communities who have lost someone in this brutality are communities Adelante serves, including Choloma, El Progreso, Triunfo de la Cruz, Jutiapa and Balfate. Tragically, one of Adelante’s clients lost her only son in this massacre. The client, who chooses to stay anonymous, says her son was attempting to immigrate to the US to look for an opportunity to provide his family with a better life. He wanted to improve his mother’s home and send her money for medical treatments. But what he found instead was death.
The Los Zetas massacre has highlighted the challenges of living in Honduras and why some Hondurans attempt to immigrate to the United States. This tragedy underscores how important it is for organizations like the Adelante Foundation to continue reaching out. Adelante brings opportunities for self-employment, economical self-sufficiency, empowerment and independence to poor women and their families that they have never had before. These are opportunities that are very hard to find in rural Honduras, and this is precisely why we have to continue reaching out to these areas and offering these opportunities to the poorest of the poor. With every family Adelante reaches, we hope one less Honduran will have to venture on the dangerous path of leaving their country.
By: Marcela Reyes
It is possible that the Zetas received some of their specialized military training in counter-insurgency and locating and apprehending drug cartel members at the military School of the Americas in the United States and by other foreign specialists of the United States, France and Israel. Thompson, Ginger (September 30, 2005). “Mexico Fears Its Drug Traffickers Get Help From Guatemalans”. New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-27. Laurie Freeman, State of Siege: Drug-Related Violence and Corruption in Mexico, Washington Office on Latin America, June 2006