Tuesday, July 23, 2019 | ePaper

Fear, anger as border guards tighten net in southern Mexico

  • Print


Mexican soldiers are using technology to help stop undocumented migrants and human traffickers

AFP, Tapachula  :
Sitting inside a truck at a checkpoint near Mexico's southern border, a soldier is scrolling through images on a screen, looking for human forms hidden in cargo vehicles.
The scanning equipment delivering the images to his computer is part of Mexico's new bid to stop undocumented migrants and human traffickers.
It is a crackdown that is about to get stronger, under the deal the Mexican government struck Friday with the United States to avoid President Donald Trump's threatened tariffs.
At another checkpoint nearby, officers inspect minibuses and taxis heading north from the Suchiate River, the frontier between Mexico and Guatemala.
It does not take them long to find an undocumented family traveling in a minibus. They make them get off-a father, mother and three children, including a baby-and put them in a van with bars on the windows.
It is likely the first step toward deportation.
"We're here 24/7," one border officer tells AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
And the Central American migrants fleeing in droves from desolate poverty and brutal street-gang violence have begun to feel the impact.
Migrant detentions have tripled in Mexico since January, to 23,679 in May. Deportations are also up, to 16,507 last month.
·As part of its deal to avert Trump's threat of five-percent tariffs on all Mexican goods-which would have risen incrementally to 25 percent by October-President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's government has agreed to deploy 6,000 officers from Mexico's new National Guard to the southern border starting Monday.
That will make it that much harder for Central Americans to slip through what has traditionally been a highly porous border.
Though some migrants and activists remain defiant.
The new deployment "might make the big caravans disappear, but not migration in general. It will continue one way or another," said Ernesto Castanedo, an activist at the Buen Pastor migrant shelter in the southern city of Tapachula.
The shelter houses 600 migrants, mostly Hondurans taking a break on their northward trek.
The migrants watch TV, play football and wash their clothes as Unicef workers give their children impromptu classes.
"It doesn't matter what Donald Trump does, he can never stop us," said another migrant, 57-year-old Josue Arenal, from Honduras.
"Migrants always sneak through. He can close the border, build a thousand walls, migrants are always going to find a way."
·    Contraband of all sorts -

AFP reporters saw undocumented migrants crossing the border at dawn on rafts, a day after the US-Mexican deal was announced.
The customs officers on the bridge appeared indifferent to the thriving black-market operations ferrying migrants and stolen gasoline across the river.
"They should go after organized crime," not migrants, said Abraham, 49, a one-time migrant from El Salvador who now works in a migrant shelter.
He experienced first-hand the dangers migrants face when he made his own attempt to reach the United States by hopping the freight train known as "The Beast."
Members of a Mexican gang-one of many known for preying on migrants-robbed him and threw him off the train.
Severely injured, he spent five years recovering in hospital, before returning to El Salvador.
When he made it back to his village, he found his family had already given him up for dead. At the local cemetery, they had erected a tombstone with his name on it over an empty grave.

More News For this Category

Anger soars over vicious mob attack on Hong Kong protesters

Anger soars over vicious mob attack on Hong Kong protesters

AFP :Anger soared in Hong Kong on Monday over a vicious assault on pro-democracy protesters by suspected triad gangsters that left dozens wounded, a dramatic escalation of the political turmoil

UK leadership favourite Johnson hits more turmoil on last voting day

UK leadership favourite Johnson hits more turmoil on last voting day

AFP :Britain's leadership contest entered its finale Monday with the favourite Boris Johnson facing more defections from ministers over his Brexit plan.The month-long contest between former London mayor Johnson and

Zelensky party heads for absolute majority in Ukraine

Zelensky party heads for absolute majority in Ukraine

AFP :Ukraine's comedian-turned-president Volodymyr Zelensky is set to control an absolute majority in parliament, ushering in a generational shift in the ex-Soviet country's political arena.The 41-year-old became Ukraine's youngest ever

Israeli forces surround demolition-threatened Palestinian homes

AFP . Jerusalem :Israeli forces surrounded a number of Palestinian homes it considers illegal south of Jerusalem early Monday, an AFP journalist saw, ahead of expected demolitions that have drawn

Britain holds crisis talks after Iran seizes tanker

AFP :British Prime Minister Theresa May convened an emergency meeting of ministers and security officials on Monday to discuss how to respond after Iran seized a UK-flagged tanker in the

India launches historic bid to put spacecraft on Moon

India launches historic bid to put spacecraft on Moon

AFP :India launched a bid to become a leading space power Monday, sending up a rocket to put a craft on the surface of the Moon in what it called

Abe on course to retain majority in upper house election

Abe on course to retain majority in upper house election

AFP, Tokyo :Japanese voters cast ballots Sunday in an upper house election, with Shinzo Abe's ruling bloc looking to protect its majority and keep on track plans to amend the

Johnson is almost certain to become Britain's next PM

Johnson is almost certain to become Britain's next PM

Supporters of Boris Johnson, who looks certain to become the next British prime minister, hail his optimistic vision for post-Brexit Britain, but insist he will have a team to take

Houston celebrates exact moment Neil Armstrong set foot on Moon

Houston celebrates exact moment Neil Armstrong set foot on Moon

AFP, Houston :Houston's Space Center counted down Saturday night to the exact moment 50 years ago that Neil Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the Moon, marking

Over 20,000 rally in Moscow as election anger boils over

Over 20,000 rally in Moscow as election anger boils over

AFP, Moscow :More than 22,000 people packed a Moscow square Saturday to demand free and fair local polls, incensed by the authorities' refusal to put popular opposition candidates on the