Mexico: investigation for “homicide” after the death of 39 migrants in a fire

Mexico: investigation for


Operation Transparency: Taking into account an accusatory video, the Mexican authorities announced on Wednesday the opening of an investigation for “homicide” after the death of 39 migrants in the fire of a center of detention in Ciudad Juárez on the United States border. 

“None of the civil servants nor any of the private security police took the slightest action to open the door to the migrants who were inside (of a cell, editor's note) while there was fire”, a said human rights prosecutor Sara Irene Herrerías Guerra at a press conference.

Eight suspected perpetrators have been identified, said the Secretary (Minister) for Security , Rosa Icela Rodriguez, during this press conference less than 48 hours after the fact.

The alleged perpetrators – three agents from the National Institute for Migration (INM) and five agents from a security company – “are already being heard” by the prosecution, continued the prosecutor.

< p>“The offense for which the (investigation) file has been opened is the offense of homicide,” she said, also mentioning the offense of “injury” and “damage to the property of others” .

A migrant was also “flagged” by other migrants as the person responsible for the fire, she added, without further details.

The prosecutor confirmed the authenticity of a 32-second video broadcast by several media, including AFP: “This video is part of the investigation file,” she said.

These CCTV images show the start of the fire in the night from Monday to Tuesday. Behind bars, in the smoke, a man kicks against a closed door while another seems to put a mattress on the floor.

In the foreground, three agents withdraw with their backs to the people locked up behind bars, without giving them assistance.

“How is it possible that the Mexican authorities left human beings locked up without the possibility of 'escape the fire?', Erika Guevara Rosas, director of Amnesty International for the Americas, said in a press release.

“Government, assume your responsibilities”, could we read on a banner held by a protester at a rally Wednesday in Mexico City.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador had promised that there would be no “impunity” by asking that “those who caused this painful tragedy be punished according to the law”.

Toll revised upwards

During the press conference, the Secretary of Security revised the death toll upwards from 38 to 39. She also mentioned 27 injuries, including six in “extremely serious” condition, ten in serious condition, and nine in a “delicate” situation.

The authorities have still not given the details of the nationality of the victims, mentioning their country of origin, mainly from Central America (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras) and Venezuela.

Guatemala claimed as early as Tuesday that 28 of its nationals were dead. El Salvador spoke of four seriously injured, asking that those responsible for the tragedy be brought to justice.

Authorities have confirmed that the fire was started by migrants protesting against their possible deportation.

Several of them had been arrested in the streets of Ciudad Juárez, where they begged or washed windshields at intersections in an attempt to survive.

Ciudad Juárez, a neighbor of El Paso (Texas), is one of the border towns from which many undocumented migrants seek to reach the United States to seek asylum after a long journey.

On Wednesday, “more than 1,000 migrants” entered the United States illegally, US border guards said, adding that they would be deporting them.

“Rumours about the opening of the border after the tragedy in Ciudad Juárez are completely false,” the American consulate in this border town tweeted.

The tragedy caused reactions beyond the borders of Mexico. “We pray for the migrants who died yesterday in the tragic fire in Ciudad Juárez,” Pope Francis said.

The United Nations has called for “safer” migration routes to the United States. United and the US Ambassador to Mexico insisted on “fixing a broken migration system” with its partners in the region.

Some 200,000 people try to cross the border between Mexico and the United States each month. United. Migrants say they want to escape poverty or violence in their countries of origin.

Since 2014, an estimated 7,661 migrants have died or gone missing en route to US territory, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).