Mexican security forces repress migrant caravan, arrest around 100

Since August 28, more than 1,000 migrants have set off on a journey from the Tapachula municipality in Mexico to the US, with the hope to apply for a humanitarian asylum there. In the past three days, the security forces have detained more than 200 migrants

September 02, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Migrants from a caravan bound for the United States run to avoid being detained by the National Guard in Mapastepec, Chiapas, on August 31. Photo: Xinhua

The officials of the National Migration Institute (INM) and the National Guard (GN) of Mexico, on August 31, once again launched repressive actions against the caravan of Central American and Haitian migrants in the Mapastepec municipality in the Chiapas state and prevented them from heading to the north of the country and continuing their journey towards the United States. Mexican security forces carried out a raid against over 300 migrants, who spent the night in the central park of Mapastepec, and arrested around 100 undocumented migrants.

The inhabitants of Mapastepec reported that the security agents chased and mistreated the migrants. A Haitian woman told La Jornada that the law enforcement agents “were abusing” them. “We were not violent. They began to attack us. We are women and parents with children. In Haiti, there is no security, that’s why we are leaving,” she added.

The caravan, which began the trek from the Tapachula municipality on August 28, originally consisted of more than 700 migrants, including women and children. However, on the way, many were detained or dismantled and forced to return.

The migrants in Mapastepec were waiting for another contingent of 300 migrants, which left from Tapachula on August 30, to join them and continue together the walk to the US-Mexico border, along the Chiapas coastal highway.

The members of both caravans indicated that they decided to move because they had spent several months, some more than a year, waiting for a response to their procedures from the Mexican Commission for Aid to Refugees, and because many did not have a job or a place to live as they have only been limited to living and looking for work in Tapachula.

In the past three days, the security forces have detained more than 200 migrants. On August 28, during the first operation to control the caravan in the Huehuetán municipality, the INM and GN agents tried to stop the migrants with riot shields. They violently beat the migrants. One of the videos posted on social media showed the moment when one officer violently threw a migrant on the ground and then the other officer kicked him in the face.

These actions were condemned by the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) and the Collective for the Observation and Monitoring of Human Rights in Southeast Mexico.

The CNDH asked the federal and state authorities to adopt precautionary measures to protect the members of the caravan and guarantee their fundamental rights. The commission highlighted that among the migrants are minors and people who have health problems. Therefore, it demanded that the authorities form an interdisciplinary group to guarantee emergency humanitarian care. The organization asked the INM to respect the “principle of non-refoulement and speed up the procedures for stays and regularization of migrants” and “the GN and the state government of Chiapas to avoid the excessive use of force.”

Since 2018, thousands of migrants from Honduras have been traveling in large groups to the US with hope to apply for humanitarian asylum there and to escape extreme poverty, violence, corruption, unemployment and lack of opportunities in their country. This year, a large number of Haitians have also set off on this perilous journey to flee the high levels of food insecurity, fuel shortage and gang violence in the country, which have aggravated after the assassination of its de-facto president Jovenel Moïse. The situation has further deteriorated due to the devastation caused by a recent earthquake on August 14.

On August 29, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) said that his administration would continue to “contain” the migration flow, but asked the United States for “substantive solutions.”

The governments of Guatemala and Mexico signed the “Safe-Third Country” immigration agreement with the US under threats of economic sanctions during the government of former President Donald Trump and agreed to take measures to regulate the passage of migrants from Central America from crossing over to the United States. According to the said agreement, any asylum seeker crossing these countries while trying to enter the US, first has to apply for asylum in that ‘safe’ third country.