Gunmen waylaid a group of volunteers bringing aid to earthquake victims in Mexico, shooting one, raping another and beating several, all for $2,000 and a few cellphones.
The group of Catholic youth volunteers left Mexico City in three pickup trucks loaded with food and relief aid for communities affected by the earthquakes in Oaxaca Tuesday morning, but a group of unidentified gunmen intercepted them and shot up their cars, wounding one of the volunteers, according to Siame. The gunmen raped one of the girls, beat one of the young men so severely that he almost died, and left with the volunteers’ phones and the contents of their vehicles.
Carlos Arvizú, Administrator of Papa Francisco Pro Felicitas AC, said that the situation in Mexico is even more dire now that volunteers are at risk of being killed, and accused the government of doing nothing about it.
“Neither the federal government nor the locals help with emergency tasks, nor do they provide security for volunteers,” Arvizú told SIAM.
“If the government guaranteed the safety of the volunteers, this would not have happened. They are not helping, working or carrying food, neither the president nor the governors of the states…but the work they have to do, that of providing security to those who do help, is practically nothing,” Arvizú told the Associated Press.
Arvizú said that aid being sent overland will have to halt for now in light of the brutal attack against the young volunteers, and has warned future volunteers about potential attacks and to stay off the highways.
“Because of what happened yesterday morning to these young people, we have already filed the complaint with the Oaxaca Attorney General’s Office; but we have also had to make some decisions,” Arvizú told the AP. “A trailer arrived from Morelia, Michoacán, full of tons of food to help people; we told them not to go on the highway because they were in danger. We also asked to put a hold on a lot of aid that was already coming from San Diego, California. The people affected by the earthquake are hungry, but now the volunteers are at risk of being killed.”
The gunmen’s attack against the volunteers was not the first such attack, according to Arvizú. Other volunteers have been assaulted, and the Mexican army even tried to rob volunteers from Guanajuato of their relief supplies. Stories of these dangers have begun dissuading would-be volunteers from lending a hand to communities in Mexico.
As for the most recently attacked youth volunteers, both the man that was beaten and the man that was shot are hospitalized and their recovery is uncertain.
“We are filled with grief, we have cried helplessly, both for the injured youth and for the young woman raped; we hope both will survive; we are waiting for the medical report of these brave young people,” Arvizú told SIAM.