A soldier is in custody after he shot and killed a Guatemalan man on a remote stretch of Mexico’s southern border on Monday.
Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval said Tuesday that the soldier opened fire on a car that tried to escape in reverse from a military checkpoint in Motozintla, a Chiapas municipality that borders Guatemala.
Speaking at President López Obrador’s morning press conference, Sandoval said the decision to shoot at the vehicle, in which three people were traveling, was an “erroneous reaction” because the military personnel hadn’t come under attack.
The man who was shot – a 30-year-old migrant identified by Guatemalan authorities as Elvin Mazariegos – received medical attention from the soldiers but died, the army chief said.
The Chiapas Attorney General’s Office said that Mazariegos was shot in the neck and chest. It also said it had opened an investigation into the killing.
Sandoval said soldiers detained the other two people and seized their vehicle. The soldier who fired at the vehicle was turned over to the federal Attorney General’s Office, he said.
The defense minister said that shortly after the incident, some 300 people from the border area including Guatemalans arrived at the military checkpoint and attacked the soldiers with sticks and stones.
“Obviously they demanded justice,” Sandoval said, adding that at approximately 3:00 p.m., 15 soldiers were detained and three military vehicles and 17 weapons were seized by the angry border residents. The civilians threatened to take the soldiers to Guatemala, he said.
The group released nine soldiers about three hours later amid dialogue with government officials, Sandoval said. The other six soldiers were released at about 3:00 a.m. Tuesday and the vehicles and weapons were returned, the defense minister said.
Sandoval said that officials reached a deal with the civilians, who remained in Mexico, to provide them with “economic reparation” for the killing but didn’t reveal how much money was paid.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs offered condolences for the man’s death and said there would be a reparation agreement.
The killing of the Guatemalan migrant came just two days after the death of a Salvadoran woman who was violently pinned to the ground while she was being arrested in Tulum, Quintana Roo, on Saturday.