Saturday, June 15, 2024

Families of Ciudad Juárez fire victims to receive 3.5M pesos each

The families of 40 migrants who died in a fire in a Ciudad Juárez detention center will receive 3.5 million pesos (US $204,785) each in compensation, the National Immigration Institute (INM) said Sunday

Two Venezuelan men allegedly lit the fire that on March 27 ripped through a locked section of the INM facility where close to 70 male migrants were being held.

Aftermath of fire at INM detention facility in Ciudad Juárez.
The fire at the detention center in Ciudad Juarez left 40 migrants dead. (Juan Ortega/Cuartoscuro)

Video footage showed that the migrants were left behind bars despite the outbreak of the fire. Twenty-seven migrants were also injured in the blaze.

A Venezuelan migrant who allegedly set mattresses alight after he and other migrants learned they were going to be deported or moved to another INM facility was arrested in late March. Another Venezuelan man was arrested in June.

In a statement published Sunday, the INM said that the keys to the accommodation area of the facility were lost at the time of the fire. It noted that INM director Francisco Garduño and seven other officials are awaiting trial in connection with the deadly blaze in the Chihuahua border city, located opposite El Paso, Texas.

The INM said that on May 18 it asked the Ministry of Finance (SHCP) to put aside a “special” budgetary allotment to pay compensation to the victims’ families once the federal government’s Executive Commission for Attention to Victims (CEAV) had determined the amount.

Francisco Garduño
INM director Francisco Garduño at a hearing in April. (JUAN ORTEGA/CUARTOSCURO.COM)

“On July 10, the CEAV authorized 3.5 million pesos for each of the deceased victims,” the INM said, adding that the SHCP had approved the transfer of 140 million pesos (US $8.2 million) so that it is able to make the respective payments.

The combined compensation total is 55 million pesos higher than an amount announced by Garduño in July.

In its statement, the INM also noted that in collaboration with other government agencies and consular officials, it repatriated the bodies of the deceased migrants to their countries of origin. The deceased men came from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Colombia, and Venezuela.

The INM said it has covered costs and provided assistance to the families of the deceased and injured, some of whom accompanied their loved ones to Mexico City, where they received medical treatment.

Posters outside Ciudad Juárez detention center
Protesters hung posters outside the Ciudad Juárez detention center where 40 migrants died in a fire on March 27. (Photo by Graciela Lopez Herrera/

“The process of accompaniment of the injured victims receiving medical treatment continues,” the institute said.

In addition to claiming 40 lives and injuring 27 other men, the March 27 fire caused material damage to the INM facility to the tune of just under 1.9 million pesos (US $11,400), according to the Federal Attorney General’s Office.

A total of 33 provisional detention centers were temporarily shut down after the blaze so that the conditions in each could be assessed and their future determined.

Smoke detectors, respirators and additional fire extinguishers were subsequently put in all INM facilities where migrants are held, the INM said. Emergency exit doors were installed and “bars and locks in all areas of transit and internal flow of people housed” at migrant detention centers were removed, the institute said.

The fire is among the deadliest tragedies involving migrants in Mexico in recent decades. Two incidents in which more migrants died include a 2021 tractor-trailer crash in Chiapas that claimed the lives of 55 clandestine passengers and the massacre of 72 migrants by cartel gunmen in Tamaulipas in 2010.

President López Obrador said in late March that the death of the migrants in the Ciudad Juárez fire took a heavy emotional toll on him.

“This case has been very painful for a lot of people. And I confess it has pained me a lot, it has hurt me. I’ve had difficult moments [as president], the most difficult was the explosion in Tlahuelilpan,” he said, referring to the 2019 petroleum pipeline blast in Hidalgo that claimed well over 100 lives.

“That was the hardest event, the one that affected me the most emotionally. And then this, this moved me, it broke my soul,” López Obrador said.

Mexico News Daily 

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