Members of a Catholic youth group were beaten, shot, robbed and raped as they attempted to deliver vital earthquake aid in southern Mexico, with two volunteers hospitalized.
The violence took place on Tuesday, a statement from the Mexico City Archdiocese said, according to Catholic News Service.
The youths were part of the Catholic group Papa Francisco Pro Felicitas AC. Their assailants, unidentified gunmen, beat one volunteer leaving serious injuries, shot another in the neck, and raped a female member of the group. They stole aid supplies, the youth’s mobile phones and about $2,300 that had been raised as money for the relief effort in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region. The group’s pickup truck was reportedly marked with several bullet holes.
‘We are very sad. We have cried at the impotence of the situation, as much for the young people as the girl who was raped,’ the statement said. ‘We hope that both (of the injured) survive. We are still awaiting a medical report on these brave young people.’
Carlos Arvizu, the director of the youth foundation, said that ‘Neither the federal government nor the locals helped with emergency duties and didn’t provide security. This is showing that after the earthquake…it’s total anarchy.’
The aid efforts followed the September 7 earthquake which caused widespread destruction and killed nearly 100 in the Mexican states of Oaxaca and Chiapas. A second quake on September 19 near Puebla, about 140km south-east of Mexico City, killed at least 337 people, with more than 150,000 homes, and many churches, seriously damaged.
Arvizu said this was not the first attack on aid volunteers, and that he has had to restrict some relief efforts in the interest of safety. He told the Associated Press: ‘If the government guaranteed the safety of the volunteers, this would not have happened.
‘They are not helping, working or carrying food, neither the president nor the governors of the states…but the work they have to do, that of providing security to those who do help, is practically nothing.’