Jul 9, 2012

Migrant riots provoke the closing of Veracruz migrant shelter

La Jornada: Americas Program Original Translation by Abigail Thornton

- Clothing and food shortage, the City of Coatzacoalcos can only provide 2 more weeks of assistance
- More than 2,000 people from Central America have been stranded since June when the train derailed in Chiapas

Eirinet Gómez: Jalapa, Ver., July 7. More than 2,000 Central Americans that have been stranded in the municipality of Coatzacoalcos since June 17th, when the train derailed at the Arriaga, Chiapas station, have provoked riots for food, such that the migrant shelter María Auxiliadora had to close and the city says that it can only provide the stranded migrants with 2 more weeks of assistance.

After the derailing of The Beast (the infamous name for the train that takes migrants north), migrants have found themselves stranded in Las Choapas, Acayucan, Medias Aguas, and Tierra Blanca, but the majority are concentrated in Coatzacoalcos, under the One Avenue Bridge, in the west of the city, which is where the train tracks are located.

Volunteers that work at the local shelter, in the Ejidal del Puerto neighborhood, said that in the past two weeks "so many migrants have gathered that clothes, shoes and food that they provide have not been enough.

They started fighting each other for clothes, shoes or food, so much so that we could no longer control them and there came a time when the attacks were against the administrators, so we closed the shelter.¨

The neighbors complained because the shelter assistance has been insufficient, and then migrants began crowding the courtyards of the neighboring homes, doing their business on the street and there were fights and assaults.

Due to frequent complaints from residents, religious leaders and volunteers at the shelter did not have any other option but to close the shelter in order to avoid further disagreements.

Raúl Otoniel Morazán, from the Honduran Consulate in Mexico, reported that around 700 Central Americans cross into Mexico from its southern border every day, of which 60 percent are migrants that state and local authorities are unable to attend to, now that they are stranded.

In order to alleviate the problem, the city of Coatzacoalcos and the state government set up temporary services for migrants; mobile toilets, showers, clothes and a pair of cooking stoves to help meet basic needs, while Ferrosur, the railway company, fixes the problem with the tracks and reestablishes the migratory flow.

Last Friday, during the delivery of groceries to the volunteers who are still providing for the migrants, the mayor of Coatzacoalcos, Marcos Theurel Cotero, declared the city incapable of handling the emergency.

¨We will provide support to the migrants for another 15 days, but we cannot take responsibility for something that is the responsibility of the federal government. There are many needs in the municipality and we cannot divert resources to attend to the migrants, right now we're doing it in a humanitarian way and to avoid problems, but it is not a local nor a state obligation,¨ he said.

Theurel Cotero said the presence of migrants in Coatzacoalcos has created problems with the residents of eight neighborhoods in the west of the city, located along the railroad tracks from the One Coatzacoalcos Bridge to the One Avenue Bridge.

The city reports that in these particular neighborhoods vagrancy, begging, burglary, street assaults and brawls have all increased.

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