28/07/2008“We Must Never Allow That Smile to Be Wiped Away” Joint Effort by ECPAT, Delphinus and Atlante Against the Sexual Exploitation of Children

•In order to prevent our tourist destinations from becoming havens for sexual tourism, players from the Atlante Soccer Club and the Mexican actress, Paulina Gaitán, teamed up to give their support to the ECPAT-USA Initiative (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes-USA), and Delphinus, who has been emitting campaigns by television, newspaper, internet videos and posters that alert the public concerning this problem, encouraging them to anonymously denounce any known cases at hotline numbers 066 or 089.

Cancun, Mexico (July 16th, 2008).- In a joint effort to prevent our tourist destinations from becoming havens for sexual tourism, Delphinus, ECPAT (End Child Prostitution and Trafficking) and the Atlante Soccer Club today launched a campaign to increase public awareness of the problem. The campaign slogan is, “We Must Never Allow That Smile to Be Wiped Away”.

The objective of the campaign is to inform the general public on the distressing consequences of the sexual exploitation of boys, girls and adolescents for commercial purposes, and to encourage citizens to denounce such cases, a fundamental step in preventing and eradicating this heartbreakingly vicious cycle.

Speaking before representatives of private organizations, governmental authorities and the general public, Mr. Francisco Córdova Lira, General Director of Grupo Via Delphi, declared his absolute abhorrence of this social problem that threatens to forever remove the innocent smiles of our children. “Today, with great commitment, I am heading up this effort. We want to attack the causes, not the consequences,” he stated.

Paulina Gaitán, star of the movie “Trade”, a German-USA-Mexican production on the sexual trafficking of children, affirmed that the struggle against the commercial exploitation of children for sex must be fought by society as a group so that a virtuous, rather than a vicious, cycle is formed. To support this cause, she invited the local community to call hotline numbers 066 or 089 to denounce any type of abuse of minors. “It is time to put a stop to this, so that kids my age (16 years old) can leave their houses without fear–so that boys and girls can continue being what they are: children.”

The Atlante Soccer Club also joined forces with this public-awareness initiative to promote citizen participation against cases where exploitation and sexual abuse of boys and girls is suspected in the tourism industry.

The “Iron Colts” (Potros de Hierro), Quintana Roo’s popular new professional soccer team, joined with the private organization called ECPAT-USA (against prostitution, pornography and and sexual trafficking involving boys, girls and adolescents) and the Delphinus group of dolphinariums in a campaign to encourage the local community to reflect on this problem that puts at risk the healthy development of our state and its tourism industry.

“A year ago, when we arrived in Cancún,” stated Miguel Ángel Couchonnal, General Director of Atlante, “we understood that we were making a total commitment. It is essential that we protect our boys and girls. By joining with organizations like ECPAT-USA and Delphinus, we are joining the fight against this vicious circle. Thank you, Delphinus, for sponsoring this event, and to all of you who are participating. Atlante aims to support such noble causes as this one. There is nothing purer than the smile of a child. No one should remain silent—if you know of an abuse against a minor, speak out against it.”

Gabriel Pereira, Alan Zamora, Cristian Bermúdez, Ignacio Hierro and Daniel Guerrero were the players chosen by the club to support this cause, and they recorded a video message which can be seen at http://www.delphinus.com.mx/noticias-delfines/ECPAT-delphinus.php. Primarily directing their efforts towards reaching the local community, the players explain the causes of this devastating social problem and the consequences that it can have on the life of its victims as well as the tourism industry. Finally, they invite the public to call the 066 or 089 hotline numbers to give anonymous tips on any cases of exploitation.

The players also appear in a series of posters that emphasize a child’s smile as the element that is most indicative of the health and happiness of youth, and they call on the public to keep it that way: “We Must Never Allow That Smile to Be Wiped Away”, as expressed in the campaign slogan.

Carol Smolenski, General Director of ECPAT-USA, showed her gratitude to the players and heads of the Atlante Soccer Club. “Thank you for your sensitivity and sustainable leadership, and for your strong commitment to children. We give you this certificate in recognition of your aid in the struggle against the sexual exploitation of boys and girls.”

Diana Chavez, coordinator of the Global Compact in Mexico, praised the companies for taking on this social responsibility, and also encouraged the public to use the hotline numbers to “speak for those who have no voice. This initiative can make the difference, and we must all take responsibility so that this campaign can result in lives that are changed, by boys and girls who are now living happy childhoods,” she said. Chavez indicated that one of the major challenges for the Mexican tourist industry is to be recognized worldwide, not just due to their high quality standards, but also for having zero tolerance of child abuse. “More than two million boys and girls are victims of this problem in the world. In Mexico, there are 25 thousand every year,” according to UNICEF statistics cited by her.
For her part, Adriana Paulina Teissier, Director of C4 of the Quintana Roo State Secretary of Public Safety (of the Data, Communications, Control and Command Center, whose function is to receive emergency calls and channel them to different public services for their processing) emphasized that sexual exploitation of minors has become a serious problem throughout the world. She expressed her appreciation for the Atlante, ECPAT and Delphinus initiative, which will “call upon the citizens to speak out against this crime.”
C4 will continue handling the emergency calls at the 066 hotline number in order to direct such calls to Public Safety, Judicial Police, the Attorney General’s Office, Red Cross, Child Protection Services, etc. In addition, this campaign stresses that citizens will be able to denounce any type of sexual abuse at the hotline number while still maintaining anonymity.
Francisco Córdova Lira, General Director of Grupo Via Delphi, stated that the struggle against the commercial sexual exploitation of minors must be carried out by society as a whole in order to form a “virtuous cycle”. “I hope that you as citizens–as fathers, mothers and Mexicans–understand that a better Mexico is the product of our daily actions. We must never allow that smile to be wiped away.”

In the name of Grupo Via Delphi, Mr. Córdova signed the Code of Conduct for the Tourism Sector for the protection of children against commercial sexual exploitation. Signing as witnesses of honor were Mr. Miguel Ángel Couchonnal, General Director of Club Atlante, and Ms. Paulina Teisser, Director of Channel 4, North Zone.

For any additional information concerning this press release, please contact Miguel Canseco, Corporate Communications Manager of Grupo Via Delphi, at 8981900 ext 102, or e-mail: mcanseco@viadelphi.com.mx