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Migrant dies in Mexico detention center riot over virus fear

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A Guatemalan migrant died during a riot at an immigration detention center in Mexico, where detainees burned mattresses to protest conditions that they say could expose them to the new coronavirus, officials said Wednesday.

The Guatemalan consul in Mexico’s Gulf coast state of Tabasco, Luis Eduardo Montenegro, confirmed the man’s death.

According to a local migrant shelter in the Tabasco city of Tenosique, the riot broke out Tuesday because migrants were tired of long periods of detention and also feared that overcrowding and poor sanitary conditions could expose them to the coronavirus.

The “72” migrant shelter said 14 other migrants were injured, some seriously.

In the Tenosique protest, and an earlier demonstration at a detention center in the city of Tapachula, migrants expressed anger that they were not released or returned to their countries.

Mexico’s National Immigration Institute says deportation programs have been delayed by travel restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The United Nations human rights and migration offices in Mexico said the dead man had sought refugee status in Mexico. It said 13 other people were injured, and said rights workers are working to transfer 42 asylum seekers from the Tenosique facility to a shelter. That move could help reduce overcrowding and keep people safer.