The Corner Institute: Community security for rural Mexico


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storefront funeral home
Programs for migrants' children
Crisis support for migrants' families
Local job creation
Educational development
Community security

When the Corner Institute’s team received our first request for help from the relatives of a local man who’d been murdered, our initial reaction was that, though of course we wanted to help the neighbors who’d suffered this tragedy in any way we could, taking on a murder case seemed beyond the capabilities of a small organization like ours, challenged as we were just keeping up with requests for crisis assistance to the region’s migrants’ families and children. At the same time, our crisis support to migrants’ families, including helping the many families requesting help bringing their migrant relatives’ bodies home for burial (the photo above shows a local funeral home’s storefront sign advertising “Bodies brought from the U.S.A”) had drawn us into a series of crime-related cases.

This daunting work had in fact led to some valuable insight into how the lack of local services created windows of opportunity for crime and corruption, while exposing us to some encouraging experiences with the ways even a small organization like ours could work with local agencies to create the kind of transparency needed to reduce corruption and help prevent crime. In fact, time and again we’d been able to help migrants’ families find justice after being victims of the many kinds of abuse their vulnerability makes them subject to. The negligent employer of a Malinalco migrant father killed on a Virginia logging job being forced to take responsibility meant the insurance benefits kept our migrant’s two sons in school through high school and on to college. The Georgia detention center where a Malinalco migrant died after falling ill in detention and receiving inadequate medical care was obligated to conduct an investigation, resulting in the firing of employees, and a U.S. government compensation being paid to the migrant’s widow and children.

In 2014, with initial support from a congregation of Ohio nuns and Mexico’s Institute for Human Rights and Democracy, the Corner Institute began working in collaboration with a broad selection of local agencies to provide our area’s citizens with simple hand-outs and fliers with the information required for them to successfully access needed services without being forced to pay excessive costs or to be drawn into the kind of fraudulent transaction that facilitates corruption and further vulnerability to crime. Carrying out this project was an education in itself, as our region’s outlying areas experienced increasing incursions by organized crime.

Starting in 2016 the Corner Institute has partnered with a group of international, national and regional agencies and organizations (including Catholic Relief Services, Mexico’s Jesuits for Peace) to extend our community security project to communities beyond the region comprised by the Municipality of Malinalco and the neighboring municipalities of Ocuilan, Joquicingo and Tenancingo. Our newest community security project is designed to replicate our “grassroots transparency” model by systematizing the methods we’ve designed to help vulnerable populations in underserved rural areas like Malinalco, so they can be applied by volunteer groups throughout 1200 square mile region represented by Malinalco’s Diocese of Tenancingo .

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