Mexico’s promised deployment of 6,000 National Guard troops to its southern border with Guatemala was supposed to stem the flow of migrants heading north through Central America.
Mexico’s deal with U.S. President Donald Trump was made under threat of American tariffs on Mexican goods – an agreement trumpeted as a great victory by the White House.
However, video footage captured this week suggests security on Mexico’s southern border remains lax, with migrants from Africa and elsewhere freely paddling across the Suchiate River that connects Tecun Uman in Guatemala to the Mexican city of Ciudad Hidalgo.
According to The Epoch Times, 18 people, including six children, from Congo and Angola, sat atop planks of wood placed over two tube rafts navigated by a pair of smugglers on Thursday morning.
Two days earlier, footage from an AP photographer assigned to the Guatemalan side of the Suchiate River captured 10 people, including several minors, being loaded on to a similar float before departing for Mexico.
On June 18, close to 20 migrants from Cuba and El Salvador slipped across the Guatemalan border and into Mexico with no National Guard members or law enforcement officials present, according to Mexican outlet El Universal.
The Epoch Times saw two groups of Africans cross from Guatemala to Mexico on Thursday
Women, men and children sat atop wooden planks strapped to rubber rafts as they made their way from Guatemala to southern Mexico this week
As part of an immigration agreement to stop United States President Donald Trump from levying tariffs on Mexican exports to the U.S., his Mexican counterpart pledged to place 6,000 National Guard troops along the 540-mile Mexican border with Guatemala
As part of a June 7 immigration accord with the U.S., Mexican officials agreed to deploy members of its newly-created National Guard to the 540-mile border he country shares with Guatemala to stem the migrant flow.
However, there have been conflicting reports from Mexican officials as to when the soldiers would arrive.
Eduardo Gallardo Gonzalez, secretary of the department of municipal protection in Suchiate, Ciudad Hidalgo City, told The Epoch Times on Tuesday that he knew the National Guard was on its way but had no clue as to ‘when.’
Last Friday, Mexico’s foreign affairs secretary, Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon, indicated the National Guard was already in place to combat the crisis migrant crisis.
At a Monday press conference, President Lopez Obrador suggested the National Guard would be in place by Sunday, adding that it had already deployed some 15,000 soldiers to its northern border with the U.S. to detain migrants trying to cross illegally.
Migrants crossing the Suchiate River between Tecun Uman, Guatemala, right, and Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, pay smugglers $1.35 to cross in the day and $5.40 at night
A raftsman (right) paddled a passenger (left) across the Suchiate River between Tecun Uman, Guatemala, and Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, on Tuesday
There was also conflicting reports as to whether the National Guard will arrest anyone trying to illegally enter Mexico or enter the U.S.
Initially created to combat cartel crime, the militarized police will now focus on Central American, African and Haitian migration.
At a Tuesday press conference, Lopez Obrador showed photographs of members of the National Guard catching Central American and Cuban women in Ciudad Juarez, which borders El Paso, Texas.
The images showed National Guard members, some armed with rifles, chasing female migrants and detaining them on the Mexican side of the divide.
Lopez Obrador said they had not been instructed to carry out such detentions.
According to Reuters, a witness saw National Guard members in full military gear with automatic rifles watched unmoved as 12 adults and four children walk hurriedly under the scorching sun along the dry riverbed of the Rio Grande toward the U.S. shortly after the Mexican leader spoke.
A guardsman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they were not allowed to arrest the migrants and had instead been directed to read them their rights and advise the people not to go to the United States to seek asylum.
Herbert Ivan Alayn Ortega, a sitting member of the Municipal Council of Ayutla in the Guatemalan department of San Marcos, said he has grown accustomed to watching migrants from neighboring Central American countries passing through his town on their way to Mexico.
The nationalities of the migrants gradually changed around late 2018 when more people from Asia, Africa and Cuba started strolling through Ayutla, he said.
According to Mexican outlet Bajo Palabra, undocumented migrants illegally entering Mexico via the Suchiate River usually do so via one of seven departure points in Guatemala: El Coyote, Las Hamacas, Palenque, Armadillos, Rojos, Limón and Cruz Blanca.
Migrants pay smugglers $1.35 during the day and $5.40 at night to float over to Mexico on rubber rafts.
The Epoch Times also witnessed a group of six people from El Salvador who were stopped from entering Mexico at dawn on Wednesday when cops caught them and demanded payment. They were turned back.
Migrants run through a field near in the southern Mexican city of Tapachula to avoid being detained by members of the National Guard on June 19
Mexico has announced it has dispatched some 15,000 soldiers and National Guardsmen to its border with the United States after agreeing to place 6,000 at its southern border with Guatemala to stop the flow of migrants