ROME — Pope Francis commemorated the gruesome 2010 slaughter of 72 undocumented immigrants by a Mexican drug cartel, calling on the faithful Sunday to show greater solidarity to migrants.
“Tomorrow, 24 August, is the tenth anniversary of the massacre of 72 migrants in San Fernando, in Tamaulipas, Mexico,” the pope told the faithful gathered in Saint Peter’s Square for his weekly Angelus address.
“They were people from various countries who were looking for a better life,” the pontiff said. “I express my solidarity with the families of the victims who today are still asking for truth and justice regarding the events.”
“The Lord will hold us to account for all of the migrants who have fallen on their journey of Hope,” he concluded. “They were victims of the throwaway culture.”
The San Fernando massacre was perpetrated in 2010 by members of Los Zetas drug cartel at a ranch in the village of El Huizachal in the municipality of San Fernando, Tamaulipas, Mexico. The narcotraffickers abducted 58 Central and South American men and 14 women, mostly from buses, and took them blindfolded to a ranch used by the cartel. The immigrants were shot in the back of the head and their bodies piled up.
Mexican military learned of the massacre when an Ecuadorian man, who survived a shot to the neck and face, faked his death and then made his way out of the ranch to a military checkpoint to ask for medical help.
Investigators said the massacre stemmed from the immigrants’ refusal to work for Los Zetas, or to provide ransom money for their release, but Zetas leader Édgar Huerta Montiel claimed they had killed the immigrants because the cartel believed they were going to be recruited by a rival gang, called the Gulf Cartel.
At the time, the Zetas were fighting for control of human trafficking networks with the Gulf Cartel and were abetted in their crusade by a number of corrupt local law enforcement officials.