Nohemí Álvarez: Young Girl’s Death a Symbol of Broken Immigration Policy

By: Alexandra Veloz - @Alex_Veloz_V - Apr 21, 2014, 10:18 am

EspañolJoselin Nohemí Álvarez Quillay, a 12-year-old Ecuadorian girl, was found dead on March 11 at a shelter called “La Esperanza” in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The young girl appears to have committed suicide in the bathroom of the shelter where she had been living since authorities found her in Mexico.

She was in the hands of Domingo Fermas Uves, an alleged “coyote” (human trafficker) who was attempting to smuggle her into the United States. Nohemí was trying to get to New York to reunite with her parents, who had departed Ecuador 10 years ago and left her in the care of her grandparents.

Ciudad Juárez, México
Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. Source: Google.

There are, however, lingering doubts and questions regarding this case. For example, Mexican authorities released Fermas Uves due to insufficient evidence in connection with human trafficking. Further, they initially identified the girl as an 8-year-old Mexican national, then later as a 12-year-old from Ecuador, and Nohemí was never able to make a call to her family during her stay in the shelter. Her parents were not even informed of her death until eight days after it happened.

This reveals an inadequate and shameful judicial and custodial process for the girl while in Mexico, a country frequently in the news due to its high levels of violence and complications stemming from human and drug trafficking.

The government of Ecuador has requested that Mexican officials clarify these facts to determine the responsibility of the authorities who had custody of the child, as well as the case against Fermas Uves. Even President Rafael Correa has spoken out on this case and assured the public that Nohemí’s death will not go unpunished.

A judge overseeing the case in Ecuador has ordered the arrests of two unidentified men, a Guatemalan and an Ecuadorian — suspected members of an alleged international network of illegal human trafficking. Meanwhile, there is an investigation underway in Mexico to target the officials who took Nohemí into custody after they found her with Fermas Uves on his way to the United States.

The Family in Danger

Nohemí’s death is shocking, and it requires us to ask questions about the conditions she had to endure on her journey from Ecuador to the shelter in Mexico. While the governments of these countries dealing with human trafficking are obliged to combat illegal activity, they also have the responsibility to ensure that the people found in the hands of the smugglers are treated with dignity and care, especially when they are children.

In cases like these, one also ought to fully consider the context of the events, before criticizing the parents of the child. It is necessary to take into account the level of desperation that overwhelms thousands of people who dream of being reunited with their families. One of the larger problems occurring in these circumstances, especially when dealing with poverty, is the gradual weakening of the family bond. New sorts of families are being created in which grandparents, uncles, and even neighbors become parents to the children of those who leave the country with the hope of providing a better economic future.

This has resulted in the inevitable weakening of the once strong family bond, a fundamental characteristic of Latin-American culture. A large number of children and young people, despite potential economic improvements in their lives, no longer see family as their foundation. What will the nucleus of society become as a result of this sort of migration?

New policies that allow individuals better economic opportunities within their own countries are necessary to help resolve this problem. Steps to radically increase economic liberty and freedom of movement would also be highly beneficial, towards open borders. Unfortunately, these options are often seen as “utopian,” especially since the benefits of immigration — its contributions toward economic growth and competitiveness in the labor market — are not sufficiently appreciated.

Translated by Guillermo Jimenez.

Alexandra Veloz Alexandra Veloz

Alexandra Veloz is a lawyer in Quito, Ecuador. She has professional experience in corporate legal services. Follow her on twitter @Alex_Veloz_V.

Canada: Peaceful Protestors “Fill the Hill” for Marijuana

By: PanAm Post Staff - Apr 21, 2014, 10:01 am

EspañolIn the spirit of 4/20 (the "annual day of celebrating cannabis culture"), a crowd of more than 2,000 people gathered and lit up under Peace Tower on Canada's Parliament Hill on April 20, 2014. The Parliament Hill gathering (called "Fill the Hill") in Ottawa was not an isolated incident, nor was it the first of its kind. According to RCMP Corporal Lucy Shorey, "This is an annual event that has always been held in a peaceful manner." Other 4/20 rallies across Canada took place in Vancouver and Toronto, while others "exercised their right to light up" as far away as Cape Town, South Africa; Reykjavik, Iceland; Dallas, Texas; and London, England. Former Marijuana Party candidate John Albert sat with the crowd on Sunday, telling CBC News, "I think what is happening in Colorado and Washington has kind of crystallized it in people's eyes. They see that it's a real thing, that legalization can work, and be a benefit to not just people who smoke cannabis but to just regular taxpayers." Albert said that the event, while great for awareness purposes, "highlighted political hypocrisy." "Even though we're persecuted, we're put in jail, we're constantly demonized by society, we can gather here on the front lawn of the highest parliament in the land and openly defy the law with no fear — because we know that we have truth on our side." Among those "openly defying the law" for Fill the Hill was Ray Turmel, aged 62, carrying a "large plastic freezer bag filled with enough marijuana buds to warrant a trafficking charge, in other circumstances." The RCMP was apparently "good-natured," but refused to make policy comments on the event. Source: CBC News, Ottawa Sun.

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