The National Guard shot at a vehicle transporting migrants near Pijijiapan, Chiapas, on Sunday, killing one and wounding four others. The security force confirmed its involvement in the incident on Monday.
Officers opened fire on the pickup truck carrying migrants when it tried to avoid an immigration checkpoint and ram a patrol vehicle, the Associated Press reported.
The National Guard said in a statement that the truck ignored orders to stop for an inspection and accelerated towards a patrol vehicle, which “put [the officers’ safety] at imminent risk.”
The state Attorney General’s Office said that the dead man was a Cuban citizen. It also said that authorities found a rifle in the truck.
The National Guard said the pickup was carrying 13 migrants, mostly from Cuba. The migrants and the driver were detained, while the wounded were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.
It is not clear if the migrants had traveled with the 2,500-strong migrant caravan that left Tapachula, Chiapas, on October 23, which was located 48 kilometers south of the incident in Mapastepec, Chiapas, on Sunday, and arrived in Pijijiapan only on Tuesday afternoon.
Migrants heading north, generally to the U.S. border, often contract the services of migrant smugglers known as coyotes, a method that can be dangerous and expensive. However, it is not known if smugglers were involved in this case.
Chiapas is bearing the brunt of a migration crisis in Mexico. In Tapachula, a city of about 350,000 inhabitants, there are at least 63,000 stranded migrants waiting for refuge, according to figures from the federal refugee agency COMAR.
In 2019, at least 70,400 people sought refuge in Mexico; this year, more than 120,000 are expected, the newspaper El País reported. Seventy percent of the country’s asylum applications are made in Tapachula, which neighbors the Guatemalan border.