Mexico’s National Guard uses deadly force and abuse in confronting migrants

Mexico’s National Guard, a militarized police force, caused scenes of panic among migrant families traveling north from the border with Guatemala over the weekend.

The clash occurred in Arriaga, one of the last municipalities in Chiapas before crossing into the state of Oaxaca. Agents stopped three vans crammed with dozens of migrants. Together with members of the National Migration Institute (INM), the military began to forcibly remove the people who were traveling in the vehicles. According to the local press, the arrests caused the separation of families traveling together.

The shock adds to the chain of harsh actions that the Mexican authorities are carrying out at the border. Last week, the National Guard opened fire on migrants near the border, killing a Cuban citizen. Two days ago, another clash began with the launch of tear gas by the military, to which the migrants responded with sticks and stones. The event resulted in several injuries, including a National Guard agent.

In the weekend events, migrants were transported to the so-called migration stations, detention centers for illegal foreigners. At the end of October, a new migrant caravan made up of around 4,000 people left Tapachula, a Mexican municipality on the border with Guatemala, with the purpose of marching to Mexico City.

The group, made up mostly of Central American and Haitian refugees, has been spreading after the departure, advancing along different routes, often on foot or with vehicles that agree to transport them, seeking to reach the capital to try to process a document and regularize their situation in the country away from the funnel that Tapachula has become, the largest entry point on the southern border, where migration and asylum authorities are overwhelmed by the increased flow of migration.

Never in history has Mexico received so many people fleeing their countries. From January to October 2021, the country has received 108,195 asylum requests, a record according to data from the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (Comar). In the first 10 months of the year, the number of applications has tripled compared to the same period in 2020 when about 41,000 procedures were counted. In addition, the figure exceeds by 80% the total of 171,210 migrants who sought refugee status in Mexico throughout the past six-year period.

While more and more people, mainly from the Central American triangle —El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala— increase the numbers of migrants, Mexico and the United States continue to negotiate joint actions. Washington has decided to promote a plan to invest up to $4 billion dollars in four years in the region, but at the same time, it has warned that the financing is subject to the fight against corruption.

Mexico continues to lead a cooperation and development project sponsored by ECLAC, the UN economic body for Latin America, which already has a roadmap, but has only just begun to receive the necessary funding.

In addition to Central America, in recent months the migratory focus has also focused on the Haitian community. Mexico’s government faced the latest emergency, a wave of Haitian migrants held in a camp under a bridge that links Texas and the State of Coahuila.

The American Government began last month the deportation of the nearly 15,000 people who managed to cross and who will be returned to other countries or will end up in Ciudad Acuña, a Mexican municipality that runs the risk of becoming another funnel city like Tapachula, a retaining wall for caravans arriving from Central America.

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