“You are us”
Andrea Gónzalez is both an academic and a human rights defender. Migration is a social phenomena that occurs in most countries of Latin America, where people head north to look for better economic opportunities. In Mexico transit migration has become a nationwide problem because migrants are constant victims of human rights violations and crimes by organized crime controlling the migration route. Andrea’s work is sparked from the impunity that unfolds by the authorities and organized crime. In this interview she narrates the dangers of helping migrants and how she got involved in this important undertaking.
In the first instance, Andrea’s family history influenced her to work for others, since her parents were always involved in social struggles. During high school, Andrea was part of a literacy project for adults in rural areas, and she participated in this project for 4 years until she started her academic career in Latin American studies at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Her career approach to migration began in 2002 researching labor rights of Guatemalans agricultural workers, Soconusco, Chiapas,
“Since 1994 I support the Zapatista movement and it seems to me today, that the way to change the situation of promise and social inequality in this country is not achieved from the political parties but from community organization in the areas of action of each person, school, neighborhood or community”.
Collective “You are us”
Today, Andrea is part of the collective “You are us,” which is a group of teachers and students of migration issues, that believe that “the academy should go together for collective action and social justice,”
“We work to provide humanitarian aid and monitor cases of human rights violations and crimes against migrants in transit through Mexico. We create networks with Civil Society Organizations that work in the subject of immigration from various fields ( legal, work , psychosocial care ). We are about to start working in the area of care the LGTB migrant community and diffusion of the problem through an internet radio show”.
This collective started working in July 2012 and Andrea has been part of it since its foundation. She coordinated for a year and a half the hostel / dining hall San Jose for migrants in transit in Mexico in the town of Huehuetoca in the State of Mexico. The hostel was closed indefinitely in July 2013 for security reasons and since then her work is focused on giving attention to cases of violation of human rights,
“As part of the group, I am also in charge of the Citizen Observatory for Human Rights of Migrant, coordinated by Insyde AC, where cases of violation of human rights migrants are documented both during transit and in migrants centers.”
Mexico and Migration
Andrea stated that the issue of migration is a problem that needs to be addressed at different levels. Since Mexico throws a large scale of low cost labor to the United States, but it is also a center of arrival and transit of migrants,
“Mexico as a country, has not taken responsibility in this issue that affects on a daily basis to hundreds of migrants throughout the country. It is responsible for both action and omission of violence lived on the migratory route”.
She narrated how human rights defenders are also victims of situations of insecurity and vulnerability,
“Every day is more complicated and dangerous for defenders and migrants in the migratory route, this is demonstrated with a recent gun attack that people in my group suffered.”
On Saturday, April 5th, a group of defenders of human rights , including members of the Collective “You Are Us” in the Lechería, part of the State of Mexico, were attacked directly with a gun machine while they were preparing to provide food, medicine and clothing to the migrants that were then in place. Outcome of aggression, an immigrant originally from Guatemala was shot in the foot. Finally and after several calls, authorities aided and abetted the defenders to leave the State of Mexico. According to their press release they urge the federal, state and municipal authorities,
“To provide immediate and urgent for the protection and migrants in transit through the State of Mexico, ensure that precautionary measures for human rights defenders human rights extend to the protection of all persons who provide humanitarian aid , as well as migrants in transit”.
Andrea’s biggest goal is to establish mechanisms to protect migrants in transit through Mexico and make visible the problems being experienced by migrants in her country. To keep reading about Andrea’s vision please check the Subversive Women Dictionary with terms asked to all the interviewees.
*Andrea has a postdoctoral fellowship at UAM-Xochimilco in the area of political sociology, holds a PhD in Anthropology from the CIESAS (Center for Research and Higher Studies in Social Anthropology). She is a teacher of Regional Studies by the Mora Institute and has a degree in Latin American Studies from the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, UNAM.