TACOMA, Wash. – Father Alejandro Solalinde, who received the 2012 National Human Rights Award, will speak at University of Puget Sound about the crisis faced by Central and South American migrants who transit through Mexico on their way to the United States. The talk will take place Wednesday April 10, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the university’s Kilworth Memorial Chapel. The event is free and open to the public.
Solalinde is a Catholic priest and immigrant rights activist in Ciudad Ixtepec, Oaxaca, Mexico. He coordinates the Pastoral de Movilidad Humana Pacífico Sur del Episcopado Mexicano and is the director and founder of Hermanos en el Camino, a shelter and center for immigrants passing through southwest Mexico. The center provides food, lodging, medical care, and legal assistance for people migrating from Central and South America to the United States.
Newspapers and local authorities often turn to Solalinde for information regarding criminal acts committed against these migrants. As a result of his dedicated and persistent activism, he has received multiple death threats from both organized crime and local officials, forcing him on occasions to leave Mexico. It is estimated that 1,000 to 1,500 migrants, escaping harsh conditions in their home countries, enter the southern borders of Mexico on a daily basis as they head to the United States.
In this southern Mexican region, an immigrant is worth $1,000 to $5,000 “a head” newspapers say. This means that immigrants are kidnapped and held for ransom. Their family members, who may struggle to meet their own needs, are forced to pay these large sums if they want to see their relatives alive again. Female migrants face even further dangers. Amnesty International commented:
“The danger of rape is of such a magnitude that human traffickers often force women to be given a contraceptive injection before the migrant journey, as a precaution against pregnancy resulting from rape.” These violations are occurring with the full knowledge and oftentimes protection of government officials.
Solalinde has become a key international human rights figure and spokesperson for migrants. His work highlights the need for widening the debate on immigration in the United States, a conversation University of Puget Sound hopes to open with his visit.
The public keynote talk by Father Solalinde is part of University of Puget Sound’s VIII Spanish Matters Colloquium, running Thursday April 11 to Friday April 12, and presented by the Hispanic Studies Program in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature. The focus of the academic gathering will be “Narratives of Immigration: Latino Studies in the 21st Century.”
For more information about this event, or if you would like to schedule an interview with Father Alejandro Solalinde, please contact Professor Oriel Siu at 213.255.1099 or send an email to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit the VIII Spanish Matters Colloquium website at: http://www.pugetsound.edu/academics/departments-and-programs/undergraduate/foreign-languages--literature/spanish-colloquium/
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