Thursday, June 20, 2024

Migrant caravan rests in Huixtla; conduct of security forces questioned

The 2,000-strong migrants caravan traveling north from Tapachula, Chiapas, rested on Wednesday in the town of Huixtla, about 40 kilometers to the north.

Many of the migrants were relieved to have a day to wash their clothes, phone home and eat something substantial. The town’s numerous grilled chicken shops proved a popular choice: the dish is a regional favorite. Once again, locals were curious to hear from the travelers and about the caravan.

With information hard to come by, rumors circulate constantly among the convoy, usually about the threat of being detained by officials from the National Immigration Institute (INM) or National Guard. The information gap is exacerbated by the scale of the caravan — about a kilometer long — which means that the experience at one end of the convoy is distinct to that at the other.

The migrants’ concerns are based on their distrust of authorities, which are built on solid foundations: many of them were interned in the prison-like “21st Century” migrant detention center in Tapachula, where they have no legal recourse, and instead have to wait — potentially for months — for their names to be read from a list for release. Also, the convoy itself has felt heavy-handed treatment: the response to the caravan leaving Tapachula on Saturday came from National Guard riot police attempting to block its path.

Some of the migrants’ suspicions were proved valid on Tuesday. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemned the Saturday actions of law enforcement and its “excessive use of force:” a 3-year-old Guatemalan child suffered a head injury, the news magazine Proceso reported. Officials from IACHR and from the National Commission for Human Rights (CNDH) gave medical assistance.

The IACHR called for restraint: “The use of force must be governed by principles of legitimate use, absolute necessity, proportionality and progressiveness,” it said, and also urged “the special protection of girls, boys and adolescents.” The IACHR is part of the Organization of American States (OAS), which is headquartered in Washington, DC.

Meanwhile, migrants that strayed away from the convoy were picked off by the INM. On Sunday various people who had fallen behind — some of whom were disabled — were detained. A further 15 people including children, who had gone ahead of the group, were arrested by authorities on Monday about six kilometers from Huixtla, the newspaper El Sol de México reported.

They were likely taken to the 21st Century detention center in Tapachula. About 100 National Guardsmen and INM agents participated in the Monday arrest, and moved farther up the highway when the bulk of the convoy got close, the newspaper reported. 

Mexico News Daily

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