The afternoon was chilly and starkly silent, damaged solely often by passing vehicles honking in solidarity. A blue and white five-starred Honduran flag wavered within the breeze, considered one of many symbols marking the deaths this week of 39 immigrants who had been trapped in a hearth at a detention heart in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.
“It was the State,” learn one poster in Spanish.
“No human being is unlawful,” proclaimed one other textual content held aloft by a Mexican immigrant.
The small however passionate group of demonstrators took up place Friday afternoon in entrance of the Mexican consulate in Los Angeles to protest what they decried because the inhumane immigration insurance policies of the governments of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and President Biden. The Guatemalan, Honduran, Salvadoran and Mexican immigrants gathered on Park View Avenue vented feelings over the tragedy.
Indignation. Unhappiness. Rage. Dread. Ache.
“It’s a disgrace,” lamented Francisco Moreno, government director of the Los Angeles-based Council of Mexican Federations, over the conflagration wherein 18 Guatemalans, seven Salvadorans, seven Venezuelans, six Hondurans and one Colombian misplaced their lives. Greater than two dozen different immigrants had been injured within the blaze, the reason for which is beneath investigation. On Thursday, a Mexican courtroom issued arrest orders for six individuals in relation to the hearth, a transfer that has performed nothing to assuage activists or the households of the lifeless.
Born in Michoacán, in west-central Mexico, Moreno is a veteran of protests in opposition to the anti-immigrant insurance policies of former President Trump. Now he condemns the López Obrador administration for what he sees as its taking directives from the Biden administration in the identical manner that Mexico’s earlier president, Enrique Peña Nieto, yielded to former President Obama, in Moreno’s view.
“These accountable need to fall, and never solely the jailers, the politicians need to fall, the individuals answerable for immigration coverage in Mexico, as a result of this isn’t honest,” he mentioned.
Calling out for justice, the demonstrators assembled round a bronze statue of Salvadoran Archbishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero, whose assassination whereas celebrating Mass in March 1980 helped spur an unprecedented wave of migration from the Central American nation to the USA.
Among the many protesters was Salvador Sanabria, a Salvadoran activist and director of the El Rescate group, who arrived in Los Angeles in search of asylum just a few days after the archbishop’s homicide.
“It makes me indignant and terrified,” mentioned Sanabria. “One wonders, with what mentality did these accountable make this occur when it might have been averted?”
Activists and teachers say that the tragedy in Ciudad Juárez is linked to the violence that has overwhelmed the border lately, as drug cartels and arranged crime have reworked into huge human-smuggling chains, leading to shootouts amongst rival gangs, kidnappings and the torturing of individuals touring northward. Throughout that point, successive U.S. administrations have elevated stress on Mexico to crack down on migrants to stop them from coming into the USA.
“Mexico has turn out to be the brand new wall,” mentioned Sanabria, who mentioned that final week’s deaths will ship a deterrent message to others considering the arduous journey.
“It implies that they don’t come to the northern border of Mexico, as a result of in the event that they cross and are arrested in the USA and deported to Mexico, is that this what will occur to them?” Sanabria mentioned, alluding to the detention heart hearth.
For the reason that summer time of 2014, because of stress exerted by President Obama, the Peña Nieto authorities applied the Southern Border Program, a transfer that intensified militarization and surveillance alongside the border, leading to 93,613 arrests being reported within the first 12 months.
The coverage subsequently gave an incentive for human smugglers, often known as “coyotes,” to comply with extra harmful routes into the USA.
“A lot of the migrant group need to cross by way of Mexico as a result of it’s the route we have now to get right here,” mentioned José Bautista, a Honduran, though that meant placing his life in danger, he mentioned.
One other demonstrator, Juanita Calel, who fled war-torn Guatemala for Los Angeles in 1996, mentioned that individuals in search of higher alternatives will proceed to try the trek, whatever the debt to smuggler that they pile up, or the hazards they face.
“What occurred actually makes me unhappy,” mentioned the native of Huehuetenango, including that, “I’m extra saddened by their kin who remained in our nation of origin and the debt they left behind.”
Because the protest wrapped up, a scattering of attendees was left to wander, play and — in some circumstances — sleep among the many tents utilized by the unhoused individuals who make their houses in MacArthur Park.