56 children and 7 adult women freed from slavery in Oaxaca

A total of 63 people from the Tzotzil ethnic group were rescued from a human trafficking network
56 children and 7 adult women freed from slavery in Oaxaca
The presumed human traffickers would place the victims at strategic points in the state capital and force them to beg for money and sell products to motorists - Photo: Edwin Hernández/EL UNIVERSAL
16/10/2018
14:03
Ismael García / Corresponsal
Mexico City
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A total of 63 people from the Tzotzil ethnic group in Chiapas56 of which are underage- were rescued from a house in a municipality within the state capital; they had been forced to beg for money on the streets and were found in poor sanitary conditions within the overcrowded building, according to the Oaxaca State Attorney’s office.

The government body informed that a joint operation conducted at the address on the private street of Belén, in Santa María Atzompa, led to the detention of 11 people allegedly involved in human trafficking and labor exploitation. The suspects were handed over to prosecution authorities.

Among the people rescued were seven adult women, 56 underage persons –12 girls and 14 boys (six of them were under the age of two)-, as well as 15 teenage girls and 15 teenage boys. All of the victims were placed under the protection of the National System for Integral Family Development (DIF) in the state of Oaxaca.

Without specifying any dates, the General Prosecutor indicated that elements from the State Bureau of Investigation, both state and municipal forces, the Prosecutor for the Protection of the Rights of Children and Adolescents at the state DIF, as well as the office of Human Rights Protection for the Peoples of Oaxaca had cooperated in the investigation, which was conducted smoothly.

The General Prosecutor had opened an investigation several months before following a report and begun legal proceedings that led to the request and execution of a search warrant in Santa María Atzompa.

“People rescued are all from the Tzotzil ethnic group in the state of Chiapas. We used a translator to guarantee a better and effective right to justice when collecting statements,” added the government.

The presumed human traffickers would place the victims at strategic points in the state capital and force them to beg for money and sell products to motorists.

Last August, the state government’s Central Population Office informed that the number of child laborers in Oaxaca had increased by 50% between 2015 and 2017.

Last year showed an increase of around 65 thousand children who engaged in work activities, which represented 50% more cases than in 2015, when only 102,712 children worked.

The children were being exploited in plain sight. Each morning, they would arrive with an adult person that led them to the main roads of the state capital. Most of them were minors aged between 6 and 10, though there were also women wearing long skirts and traditional blouses of the Tzotzil people.

A group of between three and five minors would gather under a traffic light with their faces painted. A boy or a girl would carry the smaller child on their shoulders so that he would juggle balls or lemons for the entertainment of motorists. Later, they would approach the drivers to ask for money. They repeated this process throughout the day, even under heavy rains and heat. They ate whatever they could get their hands on or what was given to them by altruistic civilians. Other children sold bubble gum and candy until an adult picked them up sometime after 8:00 PM.

During the last six months, the presence of child beggars in the streets of Oaxaca increased considerably. Only in the Reforma neighborhood, at least 10 children worked at each of the two main traffic lights. No authority had even noticed they were being exploited until this weekend.
 

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