Mexico’s National Guard halts advance of latest wave of migrants

UNTV News   •   January 24, 2020   •   633

Hundreds of Central Americans traveling as part of a migrant caravan walk on 23 January 2020 near the southeastern Mexican town of Frontera Hidalgo. EPA-EFE/Juan Manuel Blanco

Frontera Hidalgo, Mexico – Thousands of Central Americans crossed into Mexico illegally Thursday from Guatemala, taking advantage of scant monitoring of a section of the Suchiate River, the natural border between those two countries.

The migrants traveled several kilometers inside Mexico and said they planned to move in orderly fashion and formally apply for asylum, but more than 200 members of Mexico’s National Guard halted their advance on a road in Chiapas state near the Guatemala-Mexico border after an attempt at dialogue between the migrants and Mexican authorities broke down.

National Migration Institute (INM) buses arrived at that spot near the town of Frontera Hidalgo to take hundreds of detained migrants to immigration-processing centers such as the Siglo XXI station in the city of Tapachula.

Carrying the flags of Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua and signs with the message “We Want to Talk Directly to the President,” the migrants set out early Thursday and walked more than 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from Ciudad Hidalgo, Chiapas, to the nearby town of Frontera Hidalgo.

They said they were taking up an offer from Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who last Friday offered jobs to thousands of migrants but said they would need to apply for asylum in Mexico.

The migrants also said they were looking to obtain safe-conduct passes – at least in Chiapas – and thereby avoid being targets of the National Guard, a recently formed militarized police force.

“Right now what we’re going to do is heed the call of (Lopez Obrador) … He’s promised us that they won’t touch us with an (asylum application) in hand. That’s what we’re going to do. If they touch us, I don’t know who’s lying there. But we’re going to do our part,” Honduran Jose Luis Morales told Efe Thursday.

However, tensions escalated Thursday when the migrants and some activists accompanying them confronted officials with the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (Comar) and the INM and demanded they respond to some 2,000 requests for asylum made in recent days by members of their caravan.

On Monday, between 500 and 1,000 migrants – part of a caravan that originally consisted of as many as 5,000 people – ran across the Suchiate River near the Rodolfo Robles bridge.

The National Guard responded with tear gas and captured more than 400 people; the National Migration Institute said 40 other migrants opted to return to Guatemala of their own accord, while 58 others disappeared into the jungle.

The INM says that a total of 679 Honduran members of the caravan, which left that impoverished Central American country a week ago, have been deported by air or land.

That institute said Wednesday that more than 2,000 migrants had been intercepted in a single day in the southeastern Mexican states of Chiapas and Tabasco.

On Thursday, the migrants crossed the Suchiate River at a different point to avoid being turned away by the National Guard.

Despite having crossed the river by surprise, the Central Americans had pledged on Thursday to migrate in peaceful and orderly fashion.

“We’re traveling because it’s the only way that maybe they’ll show mercy and let us travel to the north. My (preferred) destination is the United States, but if I can stay in Mexico I’ll stay because for me it’s a big advantage, since we’re supported here by all the Mexican people,” Honduran Marco Tulio Polanco told Efe.

Mexico’s equivalent of an ombudsman’s office, the National Human Rights Commission, which has come under fire for its lukewarm response to Monday’s events on the border, on Thursday issued a statement saying that its officials have been gathering up complaints and that it condemns “all acts of violence against the physical integrity of migrants.”

Unemployment, poverty and, above all, high levels of gang violence are the reasons most cited by Central Americans for leaving their native countries.

Mexico’s response to this first migrant caravan of 2020 reflects a sharp change in policy by Lopez Obrador’s administration, which had previously offered fast-track visas to migrants for humanitarian reasons and had sought to enlist the US in a development plan for Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

That plan focused on boosting job opportunities in countries that have some of the highest homicide rates in the world and where 60 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.

But under pressure from US President Donald Trump’s administration, which had threatened to impose tariffs on all Mexican imports if that country did not halt the northward movement of Central Americans, Lopez Obrador’s government agreed with the US in June 2019 on a plan to curb migration.

Last month, Mexico announced a 70 percent reduction in the number of people arriving at its border with the US and said that the INM had deported 178,960 foreigners in 2019. EFE-EPA

ppc/mc

Hoping to show off your newborn? Glass-enclosed mobile presentation cabins available in Mexico

UNTV News   •   August 3, 2020

A Monterrey-based advertising company in Mexico changed its set of operations and now offers local residents the opportunity to rent a glass-enclosed mobile cabin to present newborns to family amid the ongoing pandemic.

A glass-enclosed mobile cabin arrives at the venue and is deep cleaned before proud parents and newborn make their entrance, while relatives and friends drive past honking their horns to take a peek at the baby.

Only close relatives are then allowed to get down from their vehicles in order to get a closer look. Renting the cabin costs $900 pesos ($40 dollars) per hour.

Adman Ernesto Gonzalez, came up with the enterprise because his daughter was born in June and he was worried that his 95-year-old grandmother would be unable to meet her.

Mexico racked up a record number of new confirmed coronavirus infections on Saturday (August 1), registering more than 9,000 daily cases for the first time and passing the previous peak for the second day running, official data showed.

Mexico’s health ministry reported 9,556 new cases of coronavirus, surging past the record of 8,458 set on Friday. The ministry also logged 784 additional fatalities, bringing the total tally in the country to 434,193 cases and 47,472 deaths. (Reuters)

(Production: Daniel Becerril, Rodolfo Pena Roja, Geraldine Downer)

Mexico captures ‘El Marro’, cartel boss blamed for fueling violence

UNTV News   •   August 3, 2020

The Mexican Army and state security forces on Sunday (August 2) captured Jose Antonio Yepez, a notorious drug gang leader blamed for helping fuel a surge in violence that has severely tested the government of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Widely known as “El Marro” (The Mallet), Yepez was captured early on Sunday (August 2) morning, according to the federal government and authorities in the central state of Guanajuato, one of the principal flashpoints of gang violence in Mexico.

Yepez, boss of the Santa Rosa de Lima cartel, a Guanajuato-based gang, has been engaged in a bloody struggle for criminal control of the state with the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), one of the country’s most powerful and violent groups.

The capture should deliver a boost to Lopez Obrador, who pledged to bring down record levels of violence plaguing the country when he took office in December 2018. Instead, homicides have further increased during his presidency.

The Guanajuato attorney general’s office said security forces captured Yepez with five other people and rescued a kidnapped local businesswoman during the operation. Weapons were also secured during the raid.

One of Mexico’s most-wanted bosses, El Marro has appeared in expletive-laden videos threatening his enemies, and in June a clip of an emotional Yepez lamenting the arrest of his mother and sister was widely broadcast on national media.

The women, who were suspected of aiding his operations, were later released when judges picked apart the case against them.

Security Minister Alfonso Durazo said Yepez would be taken to the Altiplano penitentiary, a maximum-security prison where drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was housed before he escaped through a tunnel in 2015. Guzman was recaptured in 2016.

Initially notorious for fuel theft in a state crisscrossed by pipelines and home to a major oil refinery, the Santa Rosa de Lima cartel has become increasingly embroiled in battles with the CJNG, based in the neighboring state of Jalisco.

A hub of the carmaking industry, Guanajuato was once one of the safer regions of Mexico, but the violence of the past few years has pushed national homicide tallies to record levels. (Reuters)

(Production: Manuel Carrillo)

Alleged drug plane burns on Mexican highway

UNTV News   •   July 6, 2020

Dramatic scenes out of Mexico on Sunday (July 5) as a plane suspected of carrying drugs was reportedly set alight after allegedly being intercepted by soldiers on a highway in Quintana Roo state, according to local reports.

Media reported that the incident took place on Federal Highway 184. Members of the army doing a flyover at the site reportedly spotted the plane before deploying units.

According to some media reports, those aboard set fire to the plane to escape.

Authorities have yet to officially report on the contents of the plane or whether any arrests were made. (Reuters)

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