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Video: Guards walk away during fire that killed 38

Published March 29th, 2023 - 06:03 GMT
Mexico Fire

ALBAWABA - Surveillance footage showed that 38 migrants were killed when smoke filled the room and migrants set fire to mattresses against the bars of their detention cell in northern Mexico Tuesday. The guards did not appear to make any effort to free the men before the smoke filled the room and killed the migrants.

Rows of bodies were covered in shimmering silver sheets outside the immigration detention facility in Ciudad Juarez, which is a major point of entry for migrants and is located across the border from El Paso, Texas, on Monday night.

Although some of the dead may have been counted twice due to confusion, authorities later stated that forty people were killed. The National Immigration Institute states that 28 people were injured and were in "delicate-serious" condition.

According to the agency, the facility was housing 68 men from Central and South America at the time of the fire. According to the institute, most were from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Honduras.

In the video, at least one migrant is seen standing by the metal gate on the other side as two people dressed as guards rush into the frame. However, the guards did not appear to try to open the cells' doors; rather, they fled as smoke billowed into the building in a matter of seconds.
In an interview with local journalist Joaqun López Doriga, Mexico's interior secretary Adán Augusto López confirmed the authenticity of the video.

According to a statement issued by the Mexican attorney general's office, immigration authorities identified the deceased and injured as being from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador.

According to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico, the migrants who learned they would be deported set the fire in protest.

López Obrador stated, "They never imagined that this would cause this terrible misfortune."

According to Chihuahua state prosecutor Cesar Jáuregui, the deaths necessitated the rental of refrigerated trailers by the government to store the bodies of the migrants.

The city hall in Juarez is across the street from the detention facility.

Viangly Infante Padrón, a 31-year-old Venezuelan migrant seeking asylum in the United States with her husband and three children, waited for her husband, who was being treated for smoke inhalation, at a nearby hospital. When the fire started the previous evening, she was waiting for his release outside the detention center.

"There was smoke all over the place. She stated, "The ones they let out were the women and employees with immigration status." The men were never eliminated before the firefighters arrived.

Before finding her husband in an ambulance, she saw several bodies. I was desperate because I didn't see him anywhere and saw body after body after body.

Prior to Tuesday, approximately 100 migrants gathered outside the doors of the immigration facility to demand information regarding relatives.

Katiuska Márquez, a Venezuelan woman of 23 years old who was traveling with her two children, ages 2 and 4, was looking for Orlando Maldonado, her half-brother.

She stated, "We want to know if he is alive or if he is dead." She was curious as to how it was that only the migrants perished and all of the inside guards survived. Why couldn't they get rid of them?

That question was not immediately answered by authorities.

On Monday, Márquez and Maldonado were among about twenty others detained alongside the children. They had been waiting in Juarez for an appointment with American authorities to request asylum. They paid for their stay in a rented room shared by ten other people using money they begged for on the street.

She stated, "I was at a stoplight asking for what I needed for my children with a piece of cardboard, and people were helping me with food." Everyone was detained at once by agents.

All of the people were taken to the immigration facility, but the men were the only ones put in the cells. The women and children were let out three hours later.

In Ciudad Juarez, where shelters are full of people waiting for opportunities to cross into the United States or for the asylum process to play out, tensions between authorities and migrants appear to have been running high in recent weeks.

An open letter protesting the city's criminalization of migrants and asylum seekers was published on March 9 by more than 30 migrant shelters and other advocacy groups. It complained that municipal police questioned people on the street without justification about their immigration status, and it also said that authorities had abused migrants and used too much force to round them up.

When hundreds of mostly Venezuelan migrants tried to force their way across one of the international bridges to El Paso earlier this month on false rumors that the United States would allow them to enter the country, the high level of frustration in Ciudad Juarez was evident. Their attempts were stopped by authorities in the United States.

Following that, Cruz Pérez Cuellar, Mayor of Juarez, began a campaign to inform migrants that shelters were available and they did not need to beg on the streets. He pleaded with residents not to give them money and stated that the authorities would remove them from intersections where it was risky to beg and alleged that they were a nuisance.

Advocates for immigrants who have recently criticized more aggressive strategies stated on Tuesday that the immigration facility was overcrowded and that the fire scene lacked ventilation.

In their statement, the advocates stated, "You could see it coming." The immigration policy in Mexico kills."

Without providing any additional details, the national immigration agency stated on Tuesday that it "energetically rejects the actions that led to this tragedy."

The United Nations special rapporteur for migrants' human rights, Felipe González Morales, stated via Twitter that the "extensive use of immigration detention leads to tragedies like this one." He wrote that, in accordance with international law, immigration detention should only be used in rare instances and not as a rule.

Overcrowding, demonstrations, and riots have occasionally occurred in Mexico's immigration lockups.

In Tijuana's immigration center in October, a group of mostly Venezuelan migrants rioted. In the southern city of Tapachula, near the Guatemalan border, Mexico's largest detention facility, dozens of migrants staged a riot in November. In neither incident did anyone die.

After the United States and Germany, Mexico has emerged as the third most popular destination for asylum seekers worldwide. However, it is still largely a destination for migrants traveling to the United States. Asylum seekers are required to remain in the state in which they apply, which is why many of them are stranded near Mexico's southern border with Guatemala. Several thousands are additionally in line urban communities.

Bishop Mons presided over a Mass to honor the migrants. The migrant community's sudden grief was lamented by José Guadalupe Torres Campos.

He declared, "The shout, the cry, of everyone is enough, enough of so much pain, so much death."

The age of Viangly Infante Padrón, as depicted in this story, is 31.

Written By Salam Bustanji

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