Father Alejandro Solalinde Guerra, priest, human rights defender, and director of a shelter for Central American migrants in southern Mexico, recently completed a U.S. speaking tour to speak about the dangers Central American migrants face while crossing Mexico. Called "the Oscar Romero of the migrants" by many Central Americans, Solalinde's theology is rooted in seeking justice for the most vulnerable of society and believes migrants "are changing the world with their presence."
The tour was sponsored by CUSLAR and the Cornell University Latin American Studies Program. CUSLAR Coordinator Tim Shenk served as Solalinde’s interpreter for the 13 public presentations between February 12 and 17, which included stops at Cornell University, Ithaca College, the First Baptist Church of Ithaca, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, St. John Fisher College, Nazareth College, Union Theological Seminary, Rutgers University, Lehman College, New York University and the Philippine Forum.
In this region, an immigrant is worth $1,000 to $5,000 “a head”; this means that immigrants are kidnapped, then held for these high ransoms, which their poor family members are forced to pay if they ever want to see the immigrants again. Amnesty International has said “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.”
The immigrants passing through Mexico have had their rights violated, and Solalinde has led an effort that led to the passage last year of what is popularly known as the “Ley Solalinde”, a that (at least in theory) grants immigrants some human rights for 180 days as they pass through Mexico. For his work, Solalinde is threatened at every angle, from the political authorities to the religious hierarchy to the gangs.
Read more about Father Solalinde
"Christ's Path" by Emiliano Ruiz Parra, for Gatopardo Magazine.
To watch video of Padre Solalinde’s talks at Ithaca College and Cornell University, Feb. 12-13, 2012: http://vimeo.com/cuslar
The Poverty Initiative
Faith Leaders and Social Movements: Immigration, Human Rights, and how
Migrants are Shaking the Church and Generating Social Consciousness, Union Theological Seminary, New York City, Feb. 15, 2012. http://povertyinitiative.org