Hugo Castro, the San Diego migrant activist who went missing in Mexico City last Thursday, has been found alive in Tlalnepantla, Mexico, according to his partner Gabriela Cortes who made the announcement over Facebook Tuesday.
“Communicating to our friends, family, that Hugo has been found alive. That’s what we can share. We thank those who intervened," she wrote, later adding in a separate post that Castro remains hospitalized in a delicate state of health. Investigations by local authorities are still ongoing.
Castro, who colleagues know as a highly dedicated and passionate advocate for the rights of the extreme marginalized, was feared to have joined the more than 10,000 people missing in Mexico. Only about one percent of those who go missing are ever recovered.
According to La Jornada, the migrant rights defender was badly beaten but is in stable condition and has been admitted to the Red Cross in Tlalnepantla, north of Mexico City. He will be moved to another facility tomorrow. Cortes reported Castro's disappearance to both Mexican and U.S. officials.
Wilner Metelus, president of the Citizens' Committee in Defense of the Naturalized and Afro-Mexicans, told La Jornada, that he along with Cortes went to the attorney general's office inquiring about the progress in the investigation when Cortes was informed without much explanation to head to Tlalnepantla, Mexico.
After several pauses and little information, the authorities took both Metelus and Cortes to meet Castro. He was asked to not comment on the series of events.
"It seems to me very strange. In half an hour they received a call from a person who told them that he had found someone in the street, very beaten. They came to identify him and it was Hugo," Metelus told La Jornada.
Castro left home in Tijuana on April 9 and was headed to the Mexican state of Chiapas to meet with a caravan of people to help migrants traveling from Haiti to seek asylum in the U.S. But while traveling, Castro said a bunch of men driving trucks followed him and cornered him near the city of Puebla. Afterward, he reached out for help over social media via Facebook live.
As part of the live broadcast, Castro mentioned his whereabouts and appealed to his audience to help him get out of the area. He said the locals wouldn't accept his U.S. currency and that he was greeted by what he described as a “group of criminals."
“I really need help. I can’t move from here. My battery is going to die. I’m not going to move from here,” Castro said in the video, as part of his last contact before he disappeared, appearing four days later. During the 20-minute video, Castro said in Spanish, "They want to kill me," adding, "I need help. I need help."
Castro is known for his work with migrants and refugees in the Tijuana region and border communities. He has led several programs as part of the non-profit Border Angels, including the SOS Migrante program to help support the 32 shelters that care for migrants in Tijuana. Castro has also helped thousands of Haitian refugees trapped along the border after the U.S. restricted entries from the Caribbean nation.
"Hugo has affected thousands of lives and people involved in this type of work are often targeted, as we interfere in the business of those with bad intentions," Border Angels founder Enrique Morones told teleSUR. "We were greatly affected and concerned and are overjoyed with his being alive but remain greatly concerned ... We hope he comes home safely."