Peace activist killed in Mexico: Is anybody safe?

Peace activist killed in Mexico: Is anybody safe?
Peace activists Nepomuceno Moreno Nuñez and Javier Sicilia

One question is often overlooked in the immigration debate. Is it safe to send undocumented immigrants back to their home country?

In the case of Mexico there is growing cause for concern.

This week a well-known peace activist was killed in the northern state of Sonora.

Nepomuceno Moreno Nuñez, 56, was shot Monday afternoon as he crossed a street in Hermosillo, according to CNN.

His son had been kidnapped and disappeared and he had accused the police of involvement. Moreno Nuñez had asked for protection from the government.

At the time of the kidnapping, he said the authorities refused to investigate. Before his son's kidnapping, Moreno Nuñez was wrongfully imprisoned and held for four years until he was released without charge.

Moreno Nuñez had met with Mexican President Felipe Calderon and other peace activists in October.

Poet and peace activist Javier Sicilia reacted to the murder of Moreno Nuñez.

"I am shocked, angry and outraged," Sicilia said in an interview with Milenio Television after Moreno Nunez's killing.

"I am speechless. Protective measures had been requested for (Moreno Nuñez), who had received threats. He himself asked for protection."

Sicilia's son and several friends were murdered in Cuernavava. This led him to become an activist and he has led marches across his country calling for an end to the violence and the drug war.

Sicilia blames the government for Moreno Nuñez's killing.

But peace activists are not the only people killed in Mexico.

Since September, four people have been reportedly killed for their online postings and use of social media in Nuevo Laredo.

Two young people were hanged from a bridge. Maria Elizabeth Macias Castro, who worked at a local newspaper, was found decapitated with a computer keyboard next to her body.

In early November, a fourth person was killed and also decapitated. A sign was left next to his body with a warning to users of social media. It is believed that drug traffickers killed these victims.

Little information has been released by Mexican authorities, including the names of three of the four victims.

Still their murders have a chilling effect in Mexico where social media has filled a news gap.

In some parts of Mexico, journalists practice self-censorship for fear of being killed. They have cause for concern.

Since 2006, 15 journalists have been killed in Mexico, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

In all, more than 43,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence since Felipe Calderon took office as president.

"Not everyone killed is involved in organized crime. Some are innocent victims," said Rocio Gallegos, an editor at El Diario de Juarez, who spoke at Columbia University in New York this fall.

She added that her newspaper strives to tell the story of each person killed in her community.

El Diario de Juarez received a Maria Moors Cabot Prize given by Columbia University for outstanding reporting on Latin American and the Caribbean.

Two of her colleagues from the newspaper have been murdered, Armando Rodriguez and Luis Carlos Santiago.

As we debate immigration on the U.S. side of the border, we also should take into concern impact the drug war is having on life in Mexico.

If a country can't keep journalists and peace activists safe, then what safeguards are given to people who have no political power?

How can the U.S.  government deport people back to regions of Mexico where the drug cartels have more power than the police or where the police are corrupt?

A humanitarian argument can and should be made to stop deportations to regions of Mexico that are deemed unsafe.

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