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Monday, February 26, 2024

38 {dead} in Mexico fireplace after guards did not let migrants out

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CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — When smoke started billowing out of a migrant detention middle within the Mexican border metropolis of Ciudad Juarez, Venezuelan migrant Viangly Infante Padrón was terrified as a result of she knew her husband was nonetheless inside.

The daddy of her three kids had been picked up by immigration brokers earlier within the day, a part of a current crackdown that netted 67 different migrants, a lot of whom had been asking for handouts or washing automotive home windows at stoplights on this metropolis throughout the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas.

In moments of shock and horror, Infante Padrón recounted how she noticed immigration brokers rush out of the constructing after fireplace began late Monday. Later got here the migrants’ our bodies carried out on stretchers, wrapped in foil blankets. The toll: 38 {dead} in all and 28 critically injured, victims of a blaze apparently set in protest by the detainees themselves.

“I used to be determined as a result of I noticed a {dead} physique, a physique, a physique, and I didn’t see him wherever,” Infante Padrón mentioned of her husband, Eduard Caraballo López, who ultimately survived with solely gentle accidents, maybe as a result of he was scheduled for launch and was close to a door.

However what she noticed in these first minutes has turn out to be the middle of a query a lot of Mexico is asking itself: Why did not authorities try and launch the boys — virtually all from Guatemala, Honduras, Venezuela and El Salvador — earlier than smoke stuffed the room and killed so many?

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“There was smoke in all places. Those they let loose had been the ladies, and people (workers) with immigration,” Infante Padrón mentioned. “The lads, they by no means took them out till the firefighters arrived.”

“They alone had the important thing,” Infante Padrón mentioned. “The duty was theirs to open the bar doorways and save these lives, no matter whether or not there have been detainees, no matter whether or not they would run away, no matter every little thing that occurred. They needed to save these lives.”

Immigration authorities mentioned they launched 15 ladies when the hearth broke out, however haven’t defined why no males had been launched.

Surveillance video leaked Tuesday reveals migrants, reportedly fearing they had been about to be moved, putting foam mattresses in opposition to the bars of their detention cell and setting them on fireplace.

Within the video, later confirmed by the federal government, two folks dressed as guards rush into the digicam body, and a minimum of one migrant seems by the steel gate on the opposite aspect. However the guards do not seem to make any effort to open the cell doorways and as an alternative hurry away as billowing clouds of smoke fill the construction inside seconds.

“What humanity do we now have in our lives? What humanity have we constructed? Loss of life, loss of life, loss of life,” thundered Bishop Mons. José Guadalupe Torres Campos at a Mass in reminiscence of the migrants.

Mexico’s Nationwide Immigration Institute, which ran the power, mentioned it was cooperating within the investigation. Guatemala has already mentioned that most of the victims had been its residents, however full identification of the {dead} and injured stays incomplete.

U.S. authorities have provided to assist deal with a number of the 28 victims in essential or severe situation, most apparently from smoke inhalation.

For a lot of, it the tragedy was the foreseeable results of a protracted sequence of selections made by leaders in locations like Venezuela and Central America, by immigration policymakers in Mexico and america, proper right down to residents in Ciudad Juarez complaining in regards to the variety of migrants asking for handouts at road corners.

“You could possibly see it coming,” greater than 30 migrant shelters and different advocacy organizations mentioned in assertion Tuesday. “Mexico’s immigration coverage kills.”

Those self same advocacy organizations revealed an open letter March 9 that complained of a criminalization of migrants and asylum seekers in Ciudad Juarez. It accused authorities of abusing migrants and utilizing extreme drive in rounding them up, together with complaints that municipal police questioned folks on the street about their immigration standing with out trigger.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador provided sympathy Tuesday, however held out little hope of change.

He mentioned the hearth was began by migrants in protest after studying they might be deported or moved.

“They by no means imagined that this may trigger this horrible misfortune,” López Obrador mentioned.

Immigration activist Irineo Mujica mentioned the migrants feared being despatched again, not essentially to their house international locations, however to southern Mexico, the place they must cross the nation once more.

“When folks attain the north, it’s like a ping-pong sport — they ship them again down south,” Mujica mentioned.

“We had mentioned that with the variety of folks they had been sending, the sheer variety of folks was making a ticking time bomb,” Mujica mentioned. “Right this moment that point bomb exploded.”

The migrants had been caught in Ciudad Jaurez as a result of U.S. immigration insurance policies don’t enable them to cross the border to file asylum claims. However they had been rounded up as a result of Ciudad Juarez residents had been uninterested in migrants blocking border crossings or asking for cash.

The excessive degree of frustration in Ciudad Juarez was evident earlier this month when tons of of principally Venezuelan migrants tried to drive their approach throughout one of many worldwide bridges to El Paso, performing on false rumors that america would enable them to enter the nation. U.S. authorities blocked their makes an attempt.

After that, Ciudad Juarez Mayor Cruz Pérez Cuellar began campaigning to tell migrants there was room in shelters and no must beg within the streets. He urged residents to not give cash to them and mentioned authorities would take away them from intersections the place it was harmful to beg and residents noticed it as a nuisance.

For the migrants, the hearth is one other tragedy on a protracted path of tears.

About 100 migrants gathered Tuesday exterior the immigration facility’s doorways to demand details about family. In lots of {cases}, they requested the identical query Mexico is asking itself.

Katiuska Márquez, a 23-year-old Venezuelan lady together with her two kids, ages 2 and 4, was searching for her half-brother, Orlando Maldonado, who had been touring together with her.

“We need to know if he’s alive or if he’s {dead},” she mentioned. She puzzled how all of the guards who had been inside made it out alive and solely the migrants died. “How might they not get them out?”


Verza reported from Mexico Metropolis. Related Press videojournalist Alicia Fernández and writers Guadalupe Peñuelas in Ciudad Juarez, Mark Stevenson in Mexico Metropolis, Sonia Pérez D. in Guatemala Metropolis and Elliot Spagat in San Diego contributed to this report.

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