Vatican officials to visit Mexico to probe alleged sexual abuse cases involving clergies

UNTV News   •   March 4, 2020   •   322

Two Vatican officials charged with investigating accusations of sexual abuse by clergy will visit Mexico for a fact-finding mission later this month, the Church said on Tuesday (March 3).

Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu will meet with church leaders and alleged victims during their week-long visit to the world’s second largest Roman Catholic country, the Mexican bishops’ conference said.

Auxiliary Bishop Alfonso Miranda Guardiola, general secretary of the bishops’ conference, told a news conference in Mexico City that the Church had requested aid from the Vatican in order to help the youngest and most vulnerable in Mexico.

Scicluna and Bertomeu are part of a taskforce created last year by Pope Francis to assist in countries where the Church had no guidance for dealing with sexual abuse cases. The two led the Vatican’s 2018 investigation into sexual abuse in Chile, producing a 2,300-page report that sparked the resignation of several of the country’s top bishops.

Scicluna also conducted the Vatican’s investigation into Father Marcial Maciel, the late founder of Mexico’s Legionaries of Christ Catholic religious order. Maciel was accused of sexually abusing at least 60 boys, some as young as 12.

Allegations of pedophilia have long plagued the Church in Mexico. Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera Lopez, President of the Mexican bishops conference, said 271 Mexican priests have been accused of sexual abuse to date.

The bishops’ conference said it does not have an estimate of the number of victims. Advocates say there are many more victims than those who have come forward with accusations. (Reuters Connect)

(Production: Carlos Carrillo, Paul Vieira)

Mexico lets cruise ship dock in Cozumel as crew member found to have flu, not coronavirus

UNTV News   •   February 28, 2020

A cruise ship with more than 6,000 people aboard was given permission on Wednesday (February 27) to dock in Mexico after passengers were denied entry in two Caribbean ports due to fears, later disproven, that a crew member was infected with the coronavirus.

Global cruise operator MSC Cruises said that Mexican authorities approved its ship MSC Meraviglia to dock in Cozumel.

The vessel, which started a tour of the western Caribbean from Miami, was due to arrive late on Wednesday or Thursday.

Jamaica and Grand Cayman had earlier barred passengers of the ship from disembarking on fears that one crew member, who has since been diagnosed with common seasonal flu, might have been infected with the coronavirus.

Cruise ships have been in the spotlight after confirmed cases of the coronavirus on the British-registered Diamond Princess approached 700 with three deaths since the ship docked at a Japanese port on Feb. 3.

A document from Mexico’s Health Ministry reviewed by Reuters said the MSC Meraviglia had been granted “free pratique,” or permission to enter the Cozumel port based on the assessment that it presented no risk of spreading disease.

It was not clear whether the ship’s passengers would be allowed to disembark in Cozumel.

MSC Cruises said the person with the seasonal flu was isolated for security measures but that no other cases of type-A influenza have been discovered on board – and no coronavirus infections have been reported on any of its ships.

“The crew member who was diagnosed with common seasonal flu is in a stable condition, receiving anti-viral treatment and medication, and is now free of fever and nearly recovered,” it said.

Alejandra Aguirre, health secretary of Quintana Roo state, where the Caribbean island of Cozumel is located, said, “We have information regarding the patient and fortunately it is not a case of coronavirus.”

Coronavirus, believed to have originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, has infected about 80,000 people and killed more than 2,700, most in China.

However, more than 30 countries have since reported cases with major outbreaks in South Korea, Iran, and Italy. (REUTERS CONNECT)

(Production: Ivan Alonso, Manuel Carrillo)

Longest-ever U.S.-Mexico border smuggling tunnel discovered

Robie de Guzman   •   January 31, 2020

The longest-ever discovered smuggling tunnel under the U.S.-Mexico border.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection released footage Tuesday (January 28) of what it says is the longest yet discovered cross-border tunnel running between the U.S. and Mexico.

The video, taken when the tunnel was first discovered by border patrol agents and their law enforcement partners in November 2019, was filmed by an official walking through the tunnel while an alarm sounds warning of low oxygen in the subterranean passageway.

Customs and Border Patrol said in a statement the tunnel is 4,309 feet (1,313 meters) long, far exceeding the previous cross-border tunnel length of 2,966 feet (904 meters).

Dozens of drug tunnels have been found traversing Mexico’s border with the United States during its decade-long war on drugs. (Reuters)

(Production: Patrick Alwine)

Mexico’s National Guard halts advance of latest wave of migrants

UNTV News   •   January 24, 2020

Hundreds of Central Americans traveling as part of a migrant caravan walk on 23 January 2020 near the southeastern Mexican town of Frontera Hidalgo. EPA-EFE/Juan Manuel Blanco

Frontera Hidalgo, Mexico – Thousands of Central Americans crossed into Mexico illegally Thursday from Guatemala, taking advantage of scant monitoring of a section of the Suchiate River, the natural border between those two countries.

The migrants traveled several kilometers inside Mexico and said they planned to move in orderly fashion and formally apply for asylum, but more than 200 members of Mexico’s National Guard halted their advance on a road in Chiapas state near the Guatemala-Mexico border after an attempt at dialogue between the migrants and Mexican authorities broke down.

National Migration Institute (INM) buses arrived at that spot near the town of Frontera Hidalgo to take hundreds of detained migrants to immigration-processing centers such as the Siglo XXI station in the city of Tapachula.

Carrying the flags of Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua and signs with the message “We Want to Talk Directly to the President,” the migrants set out early Thursday and walked more than 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from Ciudad Hidalgo, Chiapas, to the nearby town of Frontera Hidalgo.

They said they were taking up an offer from Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who last Friday offered jobs to thousands of migrants but said they would need to apply for asylum in Mexico.

The migrants also said they were looking to obtain safe-conduct passes – at least in Chiapas – and thereby avoid being targets of the National Guard, a recently formed militarized police force.

“Right now what we’re going to do is heed the call of (Lopez Obrador) … He’s promised us that they won’t touch us with an (asylum application) in hand. That’s what we’re going to do. If they touch us, I don’t know who’s lying there. But we’re going to do our part,” Honduran Jose Luis Morales told Efe Thursday.

However, tensions escalated Thursday when the migrants and some activists accompanying them confronted officials with the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (Comar) and the INM and demanded they respond to some 2,000 requests for asylum made in recent days by members of their caravan.

On Monday, between 500 and 1,000 migrants – part of a caravan that originally consisted of as many as 5,000 people – ran across the Suchiate River near the Rodolfo Robles bridge.

The National Guard responded with tear gas and captured more than 400 people; the National Migration Institute said 40 other migrants opted to return to Guatemala of their own accord, while 58 others disappeared into the jungle.

The INM says that a total of 679 Honduran members of the caravan, which left that impoverished Central American country a week ago, have been deported by air or land.

That institute said Wednesday that more than 2,000 migrants had been intercepted in a single day in the southeastern Mexican states of Chiapas and Tabasco.

On Thursday, the migrants crossed the Suchiate River at a different point to avoid being turned away by the National Guard.

Despite having crossed the river by surprise, the Central Americans had pledged on Thursday to migrate in peaceful and orderly fashion.

“We’re traveling because it’s the only way that maybe they’ll show mercy and let us travel to the north. My (preferred) destination is the United States, but if I can stay in Mexico I’ll stay because for me it’s a big advantage, since we’re supported here by all the Mexican people,” Honduran Marco Tulio Polanco told Efe.

Mexico’s equivalent of an ombudsman’s office, the National Human Rights Commission, which has come under fire for its lukewarm response to Monday’s events on the border, on Thursday issued a statement saying that its officials have been gathering up complaints and that it condemns “all acts of violence against the physical integrity of migrants.”

Unemployment, poverty and, above all, high levels of gang violence are the reasons most cited by Central Americans for leaving their native countries.

Mexico’s response to this first migrant caravan of 2020 reflects a sharp change in policy by Lopez Obrador’s administration, which had previously offered fast-track visas to migrants for humanitarian reasons and had sought to enlist the US in a development plan for Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

That plan focused on boosting job opportunities in countries that have some of the highest homicide rates in the world and where 60 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.

But under pressure from US President Donald Trump’s administration, which had threatened to impose tariffs on all Mexican imports if that country did not halt the northward movement of Central Americans, Lopez Obrador’s government agreed with the US in June 2019 on a plan to curb migration.

Last month, Mexico announced a 70 percent reduction in the number of people arriving at its border with the US and said that the INM had deported 178,960 foreigners in 2019. EFE-EPA

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