Mexico meets migrants at southern border with armed forces

Migrants are detained by Mexican immigration authorities during a raid on a migrant caravan that had earlier crossed the Mexico - Guatemala border, near Metapa, Chiapas state, Mexico, Wednesday, June 5, 2019. (AP)
Updated 06 June 2019
0

Mexico meets migrants at southern border with armed forces

  • Migration officials detained 350 to 400 people, the official said, noting that federal police and agents from the National Guard were present

MEXICO CITY: Mexican soldiers, armed police and migration officials blocked hundreds of migrants after they crossed the border from Guatemala in a caravan into southern Mexico on Wednesday, and detained dozens of them, a witness from a migrant aid group and an official said.
The Mexican response in the border town of Metapa, which included dozens of soldiers, marked a toughening of the government’s efforts to curb the flow of mainly Central American migrants, said Salva Cruz, a coordinator with Fray Matias de Cordova.
“That many sailors and military police, yes, it’s new,” Cruz said, by WhatsApp, from Metapa, in the southern border state of Chiapas, where the vast majority of migrants cross into Mexico. Many are asylum seekers fleeing violence and poverty in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
The operation in Chiapas coincided with a meeting of Mexican and US officials at the White House on Wednesday to thrash out a deal that would avoid blanket tariffs on Mexico threatened by US President Donald Trump last week.
Trump announced the tariffs in retaliation for what he called Mexico’s failure to stop Central American migrants reaching the US border.
US border officers apprehended more than 132,000 people crossing from Mexico in May, a third more than in April and the highest monthly level since 2006, reaching what US officials said on Wednesday were “crisis” levels.
A National Migration Institute (INM) official in Mexico City who was unauthorized to talk to the media said, on condition of anonymity, that the migrants were being asked to show their status in Mexico.
Migration officials detained 350 to 400 people, the official said, noting that federal police and agents from the National Guard were present. Mexico’s government recently created a militarized police force called the National Guard made up of soldiers and federal police.
It was not immediately possible to verify how many migrants crossed into Mexico.
On Wednesday afternoon in Mexico City, police detained Irineo Mujica, director of the US-Mexico migrant aid group Pueblo Sin Fronteras, and Cristobal Sanchez, a migrant rights activist, according to Alex Mensing, a coordinator with the group.
Pueblo Sin Fronteras has for several years guided annual caravans through Mexico, seeking to protect migrants and to advocate for their rights along a 2,000-mile trail ridden with criminals and corrupt officials who prey on lone travelers through kidnapping, extortion and other forms of assault.
Since April 2018, Trump has lashed out at the caravans of Central Americans wending their way to the United States, while blaming Mexico for failing to stop their movement to the US border.


Turkey clears RSF representative of ‘terror propaganda’

Updated 2 min 2 sec ago
0

Turkey clears RSF representative of ‘terror propaganda’

  • The three could have been jailed for 14 years
  • Guest editors took control over the paper to support Ozgur Gundem
ISTANBUL: The Turkey representative for Reporters Without Borders (RSF) was acquitted on Wednesday of the charge of making “terror propaganda” for Kurdish militants, in a case which triggered international alarm over press freedom in the country.
With dozens of journalists behind bars and on trial, activists claim the climate for the media has deteriorated under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Supporters erupted into applause after RSF representative Erol Onderoglu, rights activist Sebnem Korur Fincanci and journalist Ahmet Nesin were acquitted by an Istanbul court.
They were accused of making “terror propaganda” on behalf of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) after guest-editing the pro-Kurdish Turkish newspaper Ozgur Gundem, as well as “condoning crime” and “inciting crime.”
The three risked 14 years in jail in the trial which began in November 2016.
Ozgur Gundem had invited guest editors to take control of the paper in a campaign of solidarity as it faced pressure from the Turkish authorities.
The newspaper was raided and permanently shut down in August 2016, accused of links with the PKK which has waged an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.
The three campaigners were detained for a short period in 2016, and can now apply for financial compensation for time spent in jail.
The acquittals are in stark contrast with the harsh verdicts handed down by Turkish courts to critical journalists in recent years, the most controversial of which was the case against opposition daily Cumhuriyet whose former staff have been sentenced to jail.
“I warmly thank all those who supported us during the trial,” Onderoglu, who will return to Istanbul next week, said via text message.
But he added: “The fight continues for all our colleagues unjustly on trial or imprisoned.”
RSF said on Twitter it was “deeply relieved” by the acquittals but called for another trial due to begin against Onderoglu later this year to be scrapped.
Onderoglu faces the same accusation of making “terror propaganda” after supporting academics who signed a petition calling for peace and the end of security operations against militants in the Kurdish-majority southeast.
“Three years of absurd proceedings was already a form of unjust punishment. AND a new trial against Erol will start on 7 November. These charges must be dropped!” RSF said.
Only Fincanci attended the hearing while Onderoglu and Nesin were abroad.
Fincanci told AFP she was “very surprised” by the acquittal.