Migrants Escape From Detention Center in Mexico
On Thursday evening, more than one thousand migrants broke out of a detention center in southern Mexico. This has been called the largest escape in recent history.
The Mexican National Migration Institution said in a statement that 700 of its detainees had already been returned to the Siglo XXI facility in the city of Tapachula, in Chiapas state, near the Mexico-Guatemala border. Nearly 600 migrants are still unaccounted for at this time.
The institute said agents inside the compound were not armed and "there was no confrontation."
Migrants from Cuba make up the majority population who are being held at the center and they were largely behind the breakout. The Mexican newspaper Reforma reported that Haitians and Central Americans were also among those who escaped on Thursday.
After the escape, the Federal police attempted to control the situation outside of the shelter, where a crowd of relatives of the escapees had been held gathered, with riot shields.
Many claimed their relatives had reported overcrowding and horrific conditions at the center.
"My wife and child have been in there for 27 days in bad conditions," said Usmoni Velazquez Vallejo, as he waited outside for news. "There is overcrowding, insufficient food and there isn't even medicine for them."
The escape occurred after migrants threatened to set fire to the facility in protest of overcrowding. According to witnesses, the escape occurred at dinner time when several inmates mutinied.
The detention center was built to accommodate 900 people, but residents assert it holds as many as 3,000.
"We have many there... we are very tight, we sleep on the floor," said one Cuban detainee.
This is the third time since October that migrants in the facility have rioted against unbearable conditions.
Over the last 30 days, Mexico has deported 15,000 migrants as President Trump demands more initiative to stop people from illegally crossing the border to the United States. On Wednesday Trump reiterated a threat to close the U.S.-Mexico border if Mexico did not halt a new caravan of migrants.
"Mexico must apprehend the remainder or we will be forced to close that section of the Border & call up the Military. The Coyotes & Cartels have weapons!" Trump tweeted.