Armed Group Assaults 300 Migrants On US-Bound Train In Mexico

By David Iaconangelo, Dec 05, 2013 12:36 PM EST
(PHOTO CREDIT: Reuters) Central American women hold a Nicaraguan flag while looking at a picture of a Central American immigrant amputee due to a train accident, at the Pakalna train station in Palenque, Chiapas, December 3,

Some 300 migrants were assaulted and robbed by an armed group as they traveled on the top of a train through the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico on Monday, reported the state's human rights commission. Animal Politico writes that the Human Rights Commission of the People of Oaxaca (DDHPO) has reported that the incident took place on a rural stretch of the railroad between Arriaga, Chiapas and Ciudad Ixtepec, Oaxaca. The train line is known colloquially as "La Bestia", or "The Beast", because of the danger migrants - many of whom are Central American -- face when they hitch a ride on the northbound trains on their way to the United States.

The 10 robbers, according to the DDHPO, descended upon the train's cars while it was stopped, and announced their arrival by shooting guns into the air. They then forced the migrants to descend from the cars, beating them and threatening them with machetes and guns while they robbed them of their clothes and money.

One of the victims, a man from El Salvador who gave his name as Timoteo, told El Universal, "The operators stopped the train because on the rails there were sticks in the way. Then around 10 people with guns and machetes came up and started cursing at us and beating the machetes on the cars to get us to come down. They took everything off us: clothes, money, packs, shoes and left us in our underwear."

At the shelter in Ciudad Ixtepec where the migrants were received, priest Alejandro Solalinda Guerra, long a defender of migrant rights, reported the incident to the authorities. Solalinde Guerra lamented the reoccurrence of attacks on migrants in that stretch of the train line and criticized the train's operators for what he described as their continued collusion with armed attackers as well as the authorities for permitting that collusion by neglecting to punish operators for it.

In May, on that same stretch of railroad, a similarly large group of migrants riding northward to the United States reportedly managed to avoid an attack by four armed men, one of whom claimed to be members of the Zeta drug gang, by taking away their weapons.