Tenosique, Tabasco, Mexico
April 1, 2020


It is with great pain and rage we denounce and deeply resent the death last March 31, 2020 of a Guatemalan migrant at the Tenosique Migration Station. According to witnesses, shortly before 8:00 p.m., a small group of migrants organized a protest in the men’s area to denounce the lack of response to the impossibility of returning to their countries, the prolonged confinement and the extremely crowded conditions, which puts the lives of detainees at serious risk in the face of the coronavirus emergency.   A mattress was set on fire and as a result, a man lost his life and 14 other people were injured, some seriously, and were transferred to hospitals in Tenosique and Villahermosa hospitals.

Several testimonies collected by La 72 coincided regarding the inaction and inability of the migration agents, the National Guard and the State Police to handle the situation, including: refusal to open the cells in order to evacuate men, women and children;  detaining persons at the main entrance, closing and locking the doors to prevent them from escaping;  a national guard threatened to beat up a family with children if they tried to leave. Additional loss of life was prevented thanks to the intervention of some migrants who forced open the doors and took the risk of helping the wounded.

On March 17, the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) asked the INM to “implement precautionary measures to safeguard the physical, psychological, health, and integrity of the lives  of migrant people housed in immigration stations.”  The response of the CNDH has been questionable, however, as it did not dispatch any representatives to document what happened at the immigration station, despite frequent and urgent messages from the La 72 team, both to their  Quinta Visitadora Station and to the coordinator of the foreign office from Tabasco. Unfortunately, representatives from neither the State Commission on Human Rights or the Mexican Commission for Refugee Aid showed up, despite the fact that there was a group of 40 asylum applicants detained in Tenosique.

Given the closure of borders in the countries of the region due to Covid-19, the INM did not heed the call from CNDH that requires urgent actions to avoid overcrowding and massive contagion of coronavirus in migrants. Nor did they respond to the recommendations of civil society to release detainees, many asylum seekers, or relocate them to migrant shelters in the center of the country, in order to avoid confinement and reduce the risk of contagion. The death that occurred last night at the Tenosique Migration Station is the direct responsibility of the INM and its highest official, Francisco Garduño Yáñez, who refused to attend to the roots of the protests at the Tapachula and Villahermosa Migration Stations of the last week, and which has already foreshadowed tragedy.

At the same time, Mexico has agreed to receive Central American migrants and refugees and those of other nationalities, returned by the United States, a country with a worrying percentage of infected, with the excuse of not being able to receive anyone as a result of the pandemic. We know of cases of people who have been detained in the migration stations, without going through sanitary filters or temporary isolation, increasing the risk of contagion among the population in detention.

Last weekend we received at La 72 three Honduran people, a mother, with her 15-year-old daughter, and a male adult, deported from the United States and Mexico. They first crossed into Texas, where they were captured by border patrol agents and immediately deported to Reynosa, remaining in custody of Mexican immigration. During their confinement at the migration station, the mother and daughter were denied consular representation and the possibility of seeking refuge in Mexico, with the instructions that they would have to do so in the south of the country. On March 24, they signed their deportation order, indicating that they would return to Talisman, Guatemala, on the border with Chiapas, Mexico. That same night two buses full of migrants left to be deported. The INM breached the deportation order and transferred them to the border port of El Ceibo, in Tabasco, where they were forced to cross through an unofficial border crossing, irregularly and clandestinely, towards Guatemala to continue on their own return to Honduras. The Guatemalan army intercepted them at the border line and returned them to Mexico again. These abusive practices not only violate fundamental rights, such as the principle of non-refoulement (no forcible return), but also jeopardize the life and integrity of deported people. 

For all the above, we make the following demands of:

 INM, to carry out a rigorous investigation into the death that occurred in Tenosique, to refine the regulations internally and to take urgent measures so that no more deaths are repeated at the stations

INM, to carry out a rigorous investigation into the death that occurred in Tenosique, clarify responsibilities internally and take urgent measures so that no more deaths are repeated in immigration stations.

The Mexican Federal Government, in the context of the pandemic, to cease and desist arresting migrants, to release those detained in the Migration Stations and to guarantee the safe return of those who wish to return.

Authorities from the three levels of government, to guarantee the right to health and protection for the migrant population, permanently, and with special attention during the duration of the pandemic.


Team of La 72

CC: Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
CC: Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists of the Ministry of the Interior.
CC: United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Mexico.
CC: National Commission of Human Rights.
CC: Tabasco State Human Rights Commission.
CC: Delegation of the European Union in Mexico.
CC: Embassy of Germany in Mexico.
CC: Australian Embassy in Mexico.
CC: Austrian Embassy in Mexico.
CC: Belgian Embassy in Mexico.
CC: Canadian Embassy in Mexico.
CC: Embassy of Spain in Mexico.
CC: Finnish Embassy in Mexico.
CC: French Embassy in Mexico.
CC: Danish Embassy in Mexico.
CC: Embassy of Ireland in Mexico.
CC: Norwegian Embassy in Mexico.
CC: Netherlands Embassy in Mexico.
CC: Embassy of the United Kingdom in Mexico.
CC: Swedish Embassy in Mexico.
CC: Swiss Embassy in Mexico.
CC: National Network of Civil Human Rights Organizations All Rights for All.
CC: Cross-Border Migration and Gender Table.
CC: Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center.
CC: Amnesty International (America, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, England).
CC: Mexican Episcopal Conference.
CC: Episcopal Dimension of the Pastoral of Human Mobility of Mexico.
CC: Franciscan Province San Felipe de Jesús in Mexico, A.R.
CC: Diocese of Tabasco.

Photo: Facebook Movimiento Migrante Mesoamericano