Mexico detains soldier who shot dead Guatemalan migrant

Elvin Mazariegos was shot dead on Monday on a checkpoint erected by the Mexican army to stop migrants from going north.

Members of the Mexican National Guard guarding the Suchiate River, the natural border between Mexico and Guatemala [File: Carlos Jasso/Reuters]

Mexican officials have said a soldier who shot dead a Guatemalan migrant was “at the disposal” of the Mexican justice system after an investigation found that he had fired as a result of an “erroneous reaction”.

Mexico’s Secretary of Defense Luis Sandoval said the migrant, whom local media identified as Elvin Mazariegos, 30, was killed on Monday afternoon in a remote area in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas.

Sandoval said the victim had approached the checkpoint in a car, but then braked and reversed in an “attempt to flee”. He said a Mexican soldier then fired at the vehicle, in “an erroneous reaction”.

“There is an erroneous reaction on the part of the military personnel, because there was no assault with a firearm or an attack of any kind, but one of our elements fired several shots,” he said. Sandoval added that Mazariegos was given treatment on the scene but died shortly after.

Sandoval said the soldier has been taken into custody for questioning.

Translation: Mexican soldiers detained in the border zone after the death of a Guatemalan are handed over to their authorities under a commitment that they try (the solider responsible) for this incident that occurred in the neighbouring country.

Two hours after the incident, Sandoval said some 300 people, Mexican as well as Guatemalan nationals, approached the border and attacked soldiers “with sticks and stones” and kidnapped 15 Mexican soldiers in retribution. He said three vehicles and 17 weapons were also taken.

Sandoval said all the soldiers were released 12 hours later after negotiations with the Mexican army which included the payment of ransom and a commitment to holding the soldier who shot Mazariegos responsible.

Members of the National Guard salute during the announcement of the deployment of security forces at the border as part of the new efforts by the Mexican government to cut the flow of US-bound migrants in Tapachula, Mexico [File: Jose Torres/Reuters]

In a tweet, the Guatemalan National Civil Police said the soldiers were released to Mexican authorities “under a commitment that they try [the solider responsible] for this incident that occurred in the neighbouring country”.

Guatemala’s Foreign Affairs Ministry denounced the killing and called on Mexican authorities to ensure that such crimes do not happen again.

Translation: We demand that the Mexican authorities clarify the crimes committed against our nationals so that justice is done and these reprehensible acts are not be repeated.

Maximiliano Reyes, under-secretary for Latin America and the Caribbean in the Mexican Foreign Ministry said an agreement for reparations will be negotiated and legal action will be taken against the soldier.

Translation: We mourn the death of the Guatemalan national Elvin Mazariegos in Mazapa de Madero, Chiapas. There will be agreement over reparations and legal actions taken against the person responsible.

“We mourn the death of the Guatemalan national Elvin Mazariegos in Mazapa de Madero, Chiapas,” Reyes said in a tweet. “There will be agreement over reparations [for the victim] and legal actions taken against the person responsible,” he said.

The shooting comes after Mexico reinforced its military forces along its southern border with Guatemala to stem the flow of migrants heading to the United States.

Local media reported that as of March 25, 34,993 migrants had been detained by the Mexican National Migration Institute this year, a 28 percent increase from last year.

The killing also comes amid nationwide outrage over the death of Victoria Esperanza Salazar, a Salvadoran migrant who died after a Mexican policewoman put her knee in her back for several minutes, breaking her neck.

Source: Al Jazeera