A CNN reporter was among the crowd that was tear-gassed Friday as Mexican law enforcement officers attempted to hold off about 4,000 Honduran migrants from entering Mexico.
Bill Weir of CNN was doing a live phone interview as some in the crowd climbed over a fence that had been erected on the Guatemalan side of the border, as recorded on video of Friday’s incident.
By the end of the day, migrants had established a position on the Suchiate River bridge connecting Tecun Uman, Guatemala, and Tapachula, Mexico. Facing them were “about 400 riot police and federales,” Weir told CNN.
The caravan appeared to be smaller Saturday than it had been on Friday, CBS reported, when the effort to cross the bridge was turned back. It was unclear whether migrants had resorted to other means of entering Mexico or had turned back.
On Friday, Guatemalan police allowed migrants access to the bridge.
“(F)or some reason, the authorities on the Guatemalan side, let this huge surge of humanity in,” Weir said. “They all came streaming up to the fence. At first, they tried to form a single-form line because they were told they’d be let in one at a time in a humane, orderly way. But the crowd was just too powerful.”
Weir said that the Mexican police did not give an inch.
“Now people have backed off, there’s a little more space and you can see all the shoes that have been lost in the scramble. There’s a man in front of me suffering from heat stroke, maybe having a heart attack,” he said.
As the crowd milled about, Weir tried to make sense of what was happening around him.
“This is really just an exercise in crowd control we’re witnessing here. Imagine if they threw open the gates to a concert, as we’ve learned that lesson in years past and people are trampled,” Weir said. “That’s what happened when they opened up the Guatemalan side.”
Then Mexican authorities acted.
“Oh, tear gas. Tear gas. The canister landed literally two feet from me. No, no, no, no, don’t throw rocks!”
Weir at that point broke off his live report to find a safer place. However, he was back on the job Saturday, tweeting updates from the bridge.
#CaravanaMigrante members tell us they are trapped between nations. Can’t go back to Guatemala while passage into Mexico has stalled. Some are improvising with ropes and ladders. pic.twitter.com/Slv5FWz28j
— Bill Weir (@BillWeirCNN) October 20, 2018
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday that immigrants in the caravan were using women and children “as shields as they make their way through.”
“This is an organized effort to come through and violate the sovereignty of Mexico,” Pompeo said. “We’re prepared to do all that we can to support the decisions that Mexico makes about how they’re going to address this very serious and important issue to their country.”
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto told his nation in an address Friday night that migrants had “tried to enter Mexican territory irregularly, attacking and even hurting some elements of the federal police.”
“Mexico does not permit and will not permit entry into its territory in an irregular fashion, much less in a violent fashion,” he said, according to USA Today.
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