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Mexico canceled plans yesterday to distribute 70,000 border maps with safety instructions and tips to migrants aiming to cross illegally into the United States, but denied that the decision was a reaction to criticism by Bush-administration officials.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in Mexico City said it “rethought” the decision after human rights organizations in several border states said the maps would show anti-immigration groups — and watchdogs such as the Minutemen volunteers — where the migrants were likely to travel.
The NHRC maps would have provided details to migrants about the terrain, cell-phone coverage and the location of water stations set up by the U.S. charity Humane Borders.
“This would be practically like telling the Minutemen where the migrants are going to be,” said NHRC spokesman Miguel Angel Paredes. “We are going to rethink this, so that we wouldn’t almost be handing them over to groups that attack migrants.”
Much of the Mexican media have accused the Minutemen of attacking illegal aliens on the border, accusations that have not been substantiated and have been denied by Minutemen organizers. The Mexican government has described the volunteers as vigilantes, as has President Bush.
Mr. Paredes said the commission’s decision was not a response to U.S. pressure, adding, “We have not taken that into account.”
Minuteman co-founder Chris Simcox said the NHRC’s decision demonstrated the effectiveness of the “peaceful, law-abiding actions by Minuteman volunteers” to secure the nation’s borders.
“The Mexican government ought to be ashamed that their policies drive their citizens to risk death in the Arizona desert trying to escape their country,” he said. “Rather than giving away maps to help their citizens flee, the government of Mexico should dedicate itself to making Mexico a country their citizens can be proud of and want to live in.”
See the border maps here.
(Posted on January 27, 2006)