Two Men's Efforts To Help Migrants In Mexico End In Their Murders : Parallels The pair fed and clothed Central American migrants on their way through Mexico. One of them, a transvestite, had been doing it for more than a decade and had received death threats.

Two Men's Efforts To Help Migrants In Mexico End In Their Murders

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Now a story from Mexico about two murdered aid workers. They were not strangers to NPR's air. Our Mexico correspondent Carrie Kahn met them through their work helping and feeding Central American migrants. A freight train the migrants traveled on stopped near their home. Both men were critical of corrupt police and organized crime gangs who targeted the migrants. Earlier this week, the two men were killed. NPR's Carrie Kahn has this remembrance.


CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: It was always easy to find the two. They were never far from the train tracks. Last June, I walked the tracks with Adrian Rodriguez Garcia. It's quite a hike from his house to where migrants gather and wait for his meals. Everyone knew him as La Polla. He was the mother hen to thousands of migrants, mostly from Central America. They knew when they got off the train in central Mexico near the town of Huehuetoca, La Polla would be there with hot coffee and sweet bread in the morning or a hot meal in the afternoon - rain or shine.



KAHN: He told me he started feeding the migrants here about 10 years ago. He saw how much they suffered, how destroyed their feet were from walking such long distances, how they were always targeted by corrupt cops or crime gangs.


GARCIA: (Spanish spoken).

KAHN: We are all human beings, he told me. The only thing different about us is that we come from different countries. Adrian died his long hair a light red color and pulled it back with a bright headband. He liked to paint his nails and wear sparkling rings. He told me he was a transvestite, and maybe that's why he related so much to the cast aside migrants. He, too, felt on the outside. Two years ago, one Honduran jumped the train at Huehuetoca and decided to stay. His name was Wilson Castro.


WILSON CASTRO: (Spanish spoken).

KAHN: I'm also a migrant, said Wilson. I know how much they suffer along the trip north. Some die falling off the train or lose limbs. I've seen it all, he said. He was the quieter side to Adrian's flamboyance, but equally committed.


GARCIA: (Spanish spoken).

KAHN: The two didn't have a lot to hand out. On this day, Adrian lined up a group of about 20 migrants and passed out hot tortillas, beans, a slice of cheese and a few jokes.


GARCIA: (Spanish spoken) (Laughter).

KAHN: But clearly, there was a serious side to the work. For one story I was working on about abuse in Mexico's migrant detention facilities, Wilson told me about being held for two months in an overcrowded cell where gang members robbed and extorted the migrants. Earlier this year, both men thwarted a kidnapping attempt of migrants at the train tracks. Wilson held one of the suspected kidnappers, while Adrian called the police. Both gave statements to the authorities. Both received death threats. And according to human rights workers, both had been promised police protection, although none was provided, says Jorge Andrade, a human rights worker.

JORGE ANDRADE: (Spanish spoken).

KAHN: Last Sunday, after they handed out the evening meal, Andrade says, the two drove back to their house. They were sitting in the car talking when Adrian's family heard the shots. Adrian died instantly from a shot to the head and heart. Wilson died a day later. Police are not commenting. At a press conference today, aid worker Andrea Gonzalez said, authorities had long been aware of the criminal gangs operating in the region and the threats to the men, yet did nothing.


ANDREA GONZALEZ: (Spanish spoken).

KAHN: She said, we can no longer permit this type of violence and impunity to permeate our society. Wilson's body is being sent home to his family in Honduras. Adrian was buried yesterday in the small cemetery in town not far from his house, not far from the train tracks. Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City.

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