Mexican president vows to deliver justice for migrants killed in fire

  • World
  • Wednesday, 29 Mar 2023

Fatima Pavon, 12, a migrant girl from Venezuela take part in a vigil outside the office of the National Institute of Migration (INM) in memory of the victims of a fire that broke out late on Monday at a migrant detention center, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, March 28, 2023. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Wednesday vowed to bring to justice whoever was responsible for the deaths of 38 migrants in a fire at a migrant holding center in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez this week.

Authorities believe the fire late on Monday, which killed mostly men from Guatemala and other Central American countries, was started by migrants setting alight mattresses in an act of protest when they discovered they would be deported.

An investigation is underway to determine what happened at the center, which Lopez Obrador said employed staff from the government's National Migration Institute (INM) as well as personnel from a private contractor.

"There'll be no attempt to hide the facts, no attempt to cover for anyone," he told a news conference.

All the victims were male, and Mexico's government is under pressure to find out why they died after officials said that the women migrants at the center were successfully evacuated.

A short video circulating on social media on Tuesday - appearing to be security footage from inside the center during the blaze - showed men kicking on the bars of a locked door.

Three uniformed people can be seen walking past without trying to open the door. Interior Minister Adan Augusto Lopez later appeared to confirm the video's veracity to local media.

The fire, one of the deadliest migrant tragedies in years, occurred as the U.S. and Mexico are battling to cope with record levels of border crossings at their shared frontier.

Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Tuesday evening that those "directly responsible" had been handed over to the attorney general's office. He provided no further details.

(Reporting by Dave Graham and Valentine Hilaire; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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