Hundreds of migrants battled with officers in the southern Mexican city of Tapachula on Tuesday, angered by authorities’ refusal to grant them free passage across Mexico to the US border after months of waiting.
Migrants, largely from Haiti and Africa, have been protesting in Tapachula, near Mexico’s border with Guatemala, for nearly a month, and the rallies got violent on Tuesday when they threw stones and punches at members of the paramilitary National Guard and police.
“It got completely out of control because people are very desperate,”Irineo Mujica, a human rights activist who has long backed migrant protests, remarked. “Many have been waiting for months” for permission to leave the city, he added.
The National Migration Institute published a statement criticizing “violent demonstrations” in front of its Tapachula facility. Approximately 100 migrants from Cuba, Haiti, and Africa were protesting in an attempt to gain earlier appointments for their immigration procedures, according to the agency.
Hundreds of thousands of migrants, largely from Central America, cross Mexico each year in an attempt to reach the United States, fleeing violence and poverty at home.
Those who arrive in Mexico’s southern border cities must wait for permits to traverse the country or responses to their asylum application in order to stay in the country.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has asked Mexican authorities to investigate further methods for avoiding bottlenecks in cities such as Tapachula.