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Mexico City takes off its shoes for migrant rights

posted 27 Jan 2012, 09:51 by Mpelembe   [ updated 27 Jan 2012, 09:51 ]

Amnesty International rallies residents of Mexico City to a shoe demonstration outside government headquarters as they launch a national sock appeal to aid thousands of undocumented migrants trekking north to the United States.

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO (JANUARY 26, 2012) (REUTERS) - Dozens of protesters hung up their shoes outside Mexico's Interior Ministry headquarters on Thursday (January 26) night demanding that authorities do more to safeguard the rights of scores of illegal migrants passing through their country on their way to the United States.

Amnesty International is leading a campaign in the country to raise awareness of the plight of thousands of migrants looking north for a better life. With countless numbers dying during the arduous journey from heat stroke, dehydration and hyperthermia, a simple pair of socks can make all the difference between death or survival.

"It's very trivial to take off shoes but after talking to migrants they say that this is the difference between life and death. When they are travelling on foot in the desert, footwear for support means that their group can make it alive or to a point where they can get to food and medical assistance," said a coordinator for Amnesty International, Daniel Zampico.

The human rights organisation conducted a national sock drive earlier this week after many migrants said the basic item of clothing was much-sought after during their dangerous trek. Activists report that some desperate migrants have ripped socks off the feet of others to ensure they make it alive across the border.

Often travelling with no proper documentation or paperwork, migrants are vulnerable to criminal activity as they avoid police for fear of deportation. With reports of thousands of migrant kidnappings in the country, rights activists are hoping to raise awareness of the human rights abuses faced by undocumented migrants.

"To make the Mexican people aware of the suffering of migrants in transit through our country. Also, to pressure politicians to respect human rights and guarantee the human rights of migrants crossing through our country," said migrant activist, Ruben Figueroa.

Countless Latin American migrants journey some 3,000 km (1,900 miles) through Mexico hoping for a better life in the United States, some clinging to the top of cargo trains or hiding in secret compartments built into tractor trailers.

Some pay as much as $10,000 to smugglers who promise to get them into the United States. Many others see their journeys end in robbery, assault or arrest. Women often report rapes during the voyage, and some have been forced into prostitution.