Things That Matter

Mexican Police Officers Arrested In Connection With Migrant Massacre Near U.S.-Mexico Border

News of Mexico’s latest bloody massacre shocked the world. Nineteen bodies had been found near the U.S.-Mexico border with gun wounds and they had been burned to try and conceal the crimes.

Quickly it began to become clear that most of the victims were migrants en route to the U.S. from Central America, including many Guatemalan citizens. Now, new evidence shows that state police officers were likely involved in the murders and attempted coverup.

The massacre is the latest chapter in Tamaulipas’ history of police corruption. Most towns and cities in the state saw their municipal police forces dissolved years ago, because officers were often in the pay of the cartels. A more professional state police force was supposed to be the answer, a belief that came crashing down with the arrests announced yesterday.

Officials have arrested 12 police officers in connection to the deadly massacre.

A dozen state police officers were arrested in connection with the killings of 19 people, including Guatemalan migrants, whose bodies were found shot and burned near the U.S. border late last month.

Tamaulipas state Attorney General Irving Barrios Mojica announced that all 12 officers were in custody and face charges of homicide, abuse of authority and making false statements.

The victims were found piled up in a charred pickup truck in Camargo, across the Rio Grande from Texas, in an area that has been bloodied for years by turf battles between the remnants of the Gulf cartel and the old Zetas cartel. Another burned vehicle was found at the scene and authorities say it had been seized by immigration officials in a raid that detained 66 migrants on their way to the U.S.

The motive behind the massacre is still unclear.

The attorney general did not say what motive the officers might have had, though corrupt local and state police in Mexico are often in the pay of drug cartels. It’s also common for cartels to charge migrant smugglers for crossing their territory, and kidnap or kill migrants whose smugglers have paid a rival gang.

Interior Secretary Olga Sánchez Cordero said that immigration agents tied to the case had been fired, though she provided no details on their number or their alleged role.

“These violations of the rights of migrants are absolutely unacceptable,” Sánchez Cordero said. She said no member of the security forces or immigration authority was above the law.

Since many of the victims have been identified as Guatemalan migrants, authorities are trying to find their families.

Credit: JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP via Getty Images

Authorities have said four of the dead have been identified so far — two Guatemalans and two Mexicans. Of the 19 bodies examined by experts, 16 were found to be males, one was confirmed as female and the two others were so badly burned their gender had not yet been determined.

The forensic results confirmed the fears of families in a rural Indigenous farming community in Guatemala who have said they lost contact with 13 migrants as they traveled toward the United States.

Guatemala’s foreign affairs ministry said late Tuesday that it was working closely with Mexican authorities. In a statement, it asked that “the full weight of law be applied to those responsible for such unfortunate events that have Guatemalan families mourning.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

This Teacher Received A Nissan Pickup Truck Decked Out As A Mobile Classroom

Things That Matter

This Teacher Received A Nissan Pickup Truck Decked Out As A Mobile Classroom

Nissan Mexico

Like students around the world, kids in Mexico have been forced to take school online or tune into programming on public TV in order to learn. But that’s just the kids who are lucky enough to have access to Internet or a TV. Many students live in rural areas and lack the adequate resources to continue their studies amid the global pandemic.

But thankfully, there are many good samaritans out there (aka compassionate teachers) who have invented their own ways to bring the classroom to kids wherever they are.

A Mexican teacher was gifted a decked out pickup truck by Nissan.

Since schools were forced to close last year in April, Aguascalientes special education teacher Nallely Esparza Flores, has been driving four hours a day to educate students one-on-one at their homes from her truck bed, outfitted with a small table and chairs.

News of her project spread across social media, eventually reaching the corporate offices of Nissan México. This week, the company surprised Esparza with the gift of a new pickup truck specially outfitted with a small open-air mobile classroom built into the truck’s bed.

“Today I feel like my labors and the help that we give each day to children and their families is unstoppable,” she said on Twitter Wednesday, sharing photos of her new vehicle. “My students no longer have to take classes in the full heat of the sun,” she said.

Nissan representatives said they decided to give Esparza the adapted NP300 model, 4-cylinder truck after hearing her story because she was “an example of perseverance and empathy.”

“When we learned about the incredible work of this teacher, we got together to discuss in what way we could contribute to this noble work,” said Armando Ávila, a vice president of manufacturing.

The mobile classroom is pretty legit and will allow Esparza to continue her good deed.

Esparza inside her new classroom.

The decked out Nissan pickup truck has three walls (the other is a retractable sheeting) and a ceiling made with translucent panels to protect teacher and student from the elements while letting in natural light.

It also has retractable steps for easy access to the classroom, electrical connections, a whiteboard and an easily disinfected acrylic table and benches that are foldable into the wall to provide space. The table also has a built-in plexiglass barrier to allow social distancing.

Access to education in Mexico is highly inequitable.

Esparza, like many teachers across the country, found that not all distance learning was equal. Many of her students in Cavillo were from poor families without internet access. So she used social media networks to keep in touch with such students via cell phones, but even that was not necessarily an available option for all — and not ideal. Finally, she decided to solve the problem by hitting the road in her pickup truck.

According to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), only 58% of students in Mexico had a home computer – the lowest percentage among all OECD countries. And only about one third (32%) of the school computers in rural schools in Mexico were connected to
the Internet, compared to more than 90% for schools located in urban areas.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

The Rio Grande Claims Life Of An 8-Year-Old Boy As Migrants Risk Arctic Conditions To Cross Into U.S.

Things That Matter

The Rio Grande Claims Life Of An 8-Year-Old Boy As Migrants Risk Arctic Conditions To Cross Into U.S.

David Peinado/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Texas is seeing an unprecedented weather crisis as much of the state is plunged into bitterly cold conditions. But that hasn’t stopped many migrants and refugees from attempting to cross into the U.S. for protection.

Many migrants cross the Rio Grande (or Río Bravo en Mexico) between Texas and the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. Crossing the Rio Grande is always a dangerous undertaking but now, thanks to the freezing weather, it’s an especially perilous journey and it’s claimed the life of another child.

An 8-year-old boy has drowned while crossing the river with his family.

Authorities have reported that an 8-year-old Honduran boy has become the latest victim in a string of drownings at the Rio Grande, between the the U.S. and Mexico. Despite the unprecedented weather, migrants continue to attempt to cross the dangerous river to reach the U.S.

The child was with his family attempting to cross the river when he drowned on Wednesday, just as Texas was gripped by Arctic conditions which have killed more than 30 people and left millions in Mexico and Texas without power, water and food. The boy’s parents and sister apparently made it to the U.S., but were returned to Mexico by U.S. Border Patrol.

According to Mexican immigration officials, the boy “couldn’t withstand the pounding water, which covered him and kept him submerged for several meters”. His body was recovered but attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.

The Rio Grande is notoriously dangerous for people attempting to cross the border.

The journey across the Rio Grande has always been a perilous one, with hundreds of people, many of whom could not swim, having drowned over the years after being caught by the deceptively deep waters and strong current.

Add in the current winter storm currently blanketing the entire state of Texas, has produced significant snow and prolonged freezing temperatures, has made the crossing even more dangerous.

In fact, earlier in the week, the river had claimed another victim. A woman from Venezuela died trying to cross the river in the same area after getting trapped in below-freezing currents. Three others suffered hypothermia: one was treated by the Red Cross in Mexico, while the other two made it the US border.

Drownings are just one of the dangers migrants face.

Apart from the potential for drownings, migrants face a wide range of dangerous while attempting to cross from Mexico into the U.S. In late January, 19 bodies were found shot and burned in a vehicle near the town of Camargo, also across the border from Texas.

There’s also the threat of violence from drug cartels and smugglers, corrupt officials, and other extreme elements, such as heat during the summer.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com