“It smells like death. I vomited,” his friend added.
Rights advocates warn that migrants are increasingly being kidnapped, killed and exploited by gangs as they travel through Mexico toward the United States, and they say Mexican authorities’ indifference is letting the problem escalate.
“We disagree with the government that it is a consequence of battles between criminal groups,” said the Rev. Pedro Pantoja, director of the Casa del Migrante in Saltillo in neighboring Coahuila state. “The permissiveness and complicity of the Mexican state with criminals … is just as much to blame.”
The National Human Rights Commission estimated in a report presented last year that nearly 20,000 migrants are kidnapped each year based on the number of reports it received between September 2008 and February 2009 — numbers the federal government disputes.
Mauricio Farah, who coordinated the report, said government corruption is at the heart of migrant abuse in Mexico.
“We are talking about the complicity of several authorities along the migrant route,” Farah told MVS Radio on Thursday. “Forty, 80, 100 migrants inside trucks or on the trains can not pass unnoticed by the authorities … on the contrary what happens is that they are in collusion with drug gangs.”
Commission president Raul Plascencia said Thursday that authorities never responded to its recommendations or demands for greater security for migrants.
“This escalation of the violence … demands results from the government in finding who is responsible,” he said.
The report said that although the government has made some small improvements, it continues to give the issue low priority, despite the widespread involvement of corrupt police.
Marines discovered the horrific massacre after the survivor, 18-year-old Luis Freddy Lala Pomavilla of Ecuador, staggered wounded to a military checkpoint. He is now recovering from a gunshot to the neck at a hospital.
Lala’s family told Ecuador television Thursday that he left his remote Andean town two months ago in hopes of reaching the U.S.
“I told him not to go, but he went,” one of his brothers, Luis Alfredo Lala told Ecuavisa television from Lala’s home town.
His wife back in Ecuador, Maria Angelica Lala, 17 years old and pregnant, told Teleamazonas her husband paid $15,000 for the smuggler who was supposed to guide him.
That smuggler apparently tried to hide Lala’s fate from his family, calling Wednesday to tell her he had reached Los Angeles. That was the day after Mexican marines raided the ranch and found the slain migrants, 14 of them women.