TAPACHULA, CHIAPAS (Reuters) – More than one thousand migrants broke out of a detention center in southern Mexico on the evening of Thursday April 25, authorities said, in a fresh sign of how a surge in arrivals has stretched the country’s resources to the limit.
More than half of the roughly 1,300 migrants later returned to the Siglo XXI facility in the border city of Tapachula in Chiapas state, but about 600 are still unaccounted for, the National Migration Institute said in a statement.
Migrants from Cuba, who make up the majority of the people being held at the center, were largely behind the breakout, the institute added. Mexican newspaper Reforma reported that Haitians and Central Americans were also among those who fled the facility, which has been crammed with people.
Mexico has returned 15,000 migrants in the past 30 days, officials have said, amid pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump to stem the flow of people north.
On Wednesday Trump reiterated threats to close part of the U.S.-Mexico border if Mexico doesn’t block what described as a new caravan of migrants headed north.
The majority of migrants moving through Mexico are from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, but Cubans are also joining in large numbers. More than 1,000 people from Cuba are now in Chiapas, according to Mexican officials.
“My wife and child have been in there for 27 days in bad conditions,” said Cuban immigrant Usmoni Velazquez Vallejo, as he waited outside for news. “There is overcrowding, insufficient food and there isn’t even medicine for them.”
The escape was embarrassing for the Mexican government, given that the center’s holding capacity had been listed at less than 1,000 people. The escape of 1,300 meant it was probably at least at double its capacity, since not everyone being held there escaped.
The Yucatan Times Newsroom
(Reporting by Jose Torres in Tapachula; Dave Graham and Daina Beth Solomon in Mexico City; Editing by Michael Perry)