Migration

Migrants injured in new clashes with the Mexican National Guard | Migration news


Clashes come days after National Guard officers shot dead a Cuban national and injured four other migrants.

Dozens of migrants traveling north to Mexico City clashed with Mexican National Guard officers in the southern state of Chiapas, near where a Cuban national was killed on Sunday by militarized police forces.

The group, made up mostly of Central American women and children, resumed their trip to Chiapas’ Pijijiapan municipality on Monday, after fatigue and illnesses among some members resulted in a two-day hiatus.

“There are two injured migrants, they were badly beaten. The officers tried to surround them with their shields, ”Luis Garcia, who helped organize the caravan, told Reuters news agency by telephone.

“Everything was chaotic. It is not fair that the authorities continue to do this. Despite all the crackdown, we are not going to stop, ”Garcia said, adding that authorities had escorted the migrants on at least four buses.

AFP news agency also reported that at least one officer was injured and 25 people were arrested amid the clashes on Thursday.

The National Guard did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters or AFP.

National Guard troops, who wore helmets and riot shields, clashed with the migrants, according to images posted on social media. Other videos shared with Reuters showed several migrants detained by officers from the National Migration Institute (NMI).

The NMI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The clashes occurred near where a Cuban migrant was shot dead and four others were injured by National Guard officers early Sunday in an area where a caravan of migrants was heading for the US border.

Authorities said the National Guard opened fire on a van attempting to avoid a checkpoint, putting “their safety in imminent danger”.

US President Joe Biden, who has vowed to overturn some of the harshest anti-immigration policies of his predecessor Donald Trump, has sought to stem the flow of irregular migration across the country’s southern border.

The administration has left in place a controversial Trump-era public health order known as Title 42, allowing US authorities to immediately deport most migrants who arrive in the hope of seeking asylum in the country.

But that hasn’t stopped people from trying to reach the United States. Thousands of people say they have been forced to leave their countries due to gang violence, high unemployment rates and systemic inequalities, as well as the devastation caused by recent extreme storms.

A few thousand migrants left on foot in a caravan last month from the town of Tapachula in southern Mexico, near the border with Guatemala.

Migrants walk in a caravan heading to Mexico City, Pijijiapan, Mexico, November 4, 2021 [Daniel Becerril/REUTERS]

They made slow progress, trudging along the freeways amid the brutal heat, advancing only about 150 kilometers (95 miles) in almost two weeks.

The Mexican government has tried to discourage the group, saying the poor conditions put people’s lives in danger. The NMI said six cases of tropical dengue fever were detected among the members of the caravan.

Much larger caravans crossed Mexico in 2018 and 2019, but these migrants never tried to cover the full distance on foot. They usually took rides in passing trucks.

But Mexico told truckers not to pick up members of the caravan, saying they could face smuggling charges. Migrants are also afraid of being separated from the group, for fear of being rounded up and deported.

A National Guard officer was killed by suspected traffickers in September, while a dozen members of an elite police force in the northern border state of Tamaulipas stand on trial for allegedly killing 14 Guatemalan migrants and five others, whose bodies were found shot and burned near the US border in late January.

Frustration has been growing for months among the thousands of migrants waiting in Tapachula.

The Mexican government has attempted to contain the migrants in the south, away from the US border, while allowing them to seek asylum in Mexico. But the country’s asylum system has been overwhelmed and the slowness of the process has led many to decide it is not worth the wait.


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