City hall had some special guests Friday morning. A group of 15 came to Corpus Christi at the invitation of the U.S. State Department.
“They all deal, in this case, with the problem of human trafficking in their own countries,” said Inge Kirkland, a State Dept. interpreter.
Their countries stretch across Central and South America, places like Argentina, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Ecuador and Uruguay. There were also representatives from Cuba and Equatorial Guinea, the only Spanish speaking nation on the continent of Africa.
These are all places where human trafficking is a growing problem.
Some are government officials, some work for non-profits. There are even police and journalists.
They came to learn from American agencies, trained to help victims of trafficking.
“The United States is at the forefront of trying to deal with these very serious problems ,” said Kirkland.
Located about 150 miles from the Mexican border, Corpus Christi knows the battle against trafficking all too well.
The visitors say the lessons they’re learning here will be valuable back home.
“This has really been a magnificent experience,” said Detective Karla Castillo of the Ecuadorian National Police. “I’m learning so much, and so many of the organizations here are very solid, very strong organizations. It’s a unique experience and I’ll be taking all of this knowledge back to my country with me, and I hope to be able to implement it there.”
The visitors are the beneficiaries of U.S. experience at every level of fighting trafficking.
“They all have to learn how to deal with the problems, how to get money to deal with them, how to organize, how big they can make a program,” said Kirkland.
As part of their visit, the dignitaries met with representatives of The Purple Door, New Life Refuge Ministries, and the Corpus Christi Police Department. They’ll spend Saturday taking in the sights before heading on to San Antonio.