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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

7/2/2014 (9 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Ranchers driven from homesteads by drug cartels

Mexico's largely losing battles with powerful drug cartels has led to the wholesale killing of innocent bystanders. There's an even more insidious part of this war that is being largely hidden from the public at large: cartels are now driving Mexican homesteaders from their ranches in land-seizing grabs, adding to the country's displacement crisis.

Mexicans displaced by violence due to organized crime tend to have a lack of identity papers, shelter, healthcare and jobs.

Mexicans displaced by violence due to organized crime tend to have a lack of identity papers, shelter, healthcare and jobs.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/2/2014 (9 months ago)

Published in Americas

Keywords: Ranchers, drug cartels, Mexico, land grabs


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - It's estimated that hundreds of thousands of Mexicans have been driven from their homes by the cartels to create a "hidden humanitarian crisis."

The U.S.-based advocacy group, Refugees International says that entire rural communities have been run off their ranches by organized criminal gangs wanting to seize their land. Even worse, the local authorities have not publicly acknowledged these land grabs.

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Mexican cattle ranching families have suffered extortion, kidnapping and killings. The families in turn are forced to relocate to cities where they are at risk of further violence stemming from the military's war against organized crime.

"Despite the fact that Mexico has multiple mechanisms in place to assist IDPs (internally displaced persons) in specific circumstances, the federal government has not demonstrated willingness to fully admit to and robustly support those displaced by organized criminal groups," the agency said in its report. Mexican authorities were not immediately available for comment.

Internal displacement, the agency says, goes largely unreported because many of those moving to escape violence were in small groups. Another factor is the ongoing mass migration within and through Mexico as Central Americans try to make their way to the United States.

"It may seem difficult to distinguish between those moving for work or family reunification and ... individuals and families who are fleeing the consequences of organized crime," the agency noted.

Battered by drug-related violence in recent years, more than 85,000 people in Mexico have died in drug-related killings since the end of 2006. Much of the violence has occurred near key smuggling routes in western and northern regions.

Mexicans displaced by violence due to organized crime tend to have a lack of identity papers, shelter, healthcare and jobs. Identity papers are especially important because without them children cannot register and go to school, and adults cannot work legally.

In addition, Mexican children without documents are at increased risk of being recruited by drug trafficking gangs because there are no identifiable fingerprints left at crime scenes.

The Mexican government scored a political victory in February, after Mexico's most wanted man, drug cartel kingpin Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, was captured with help from U.S. agencies.

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