April 22, 2023 -MATAMOROS, Mexico (AP) — About two dozen makeshift tents were set ablaze and destroyed at a migrant camp across the border from Texas this week, witnesses said Friday, a sign of the extreme risk that comes with being stuck in Mexico as the Biden administration increasingly relies on that country to host people fleeing poverty and violence.
The fires were set Wednesday and Thursday at the sprawling camp of about 2,000 people, most of them from Venezuela, Haiti and Mexico, in Matamoros, a city near Brownsville, Texas. An advocate for migrants said they had been doused with gasoline.
It was not immediately known who was to blame in torching the tents. Cartel-backed gangs often draw suspicion in any border attacks because of their penchant for preying on migrants and demanding money for passage through their territory. But a government official suggested the fires could have been set by a group of migrants frustrated over their long wait in Matamoros to cross the border.
“The people fled as their tents were burned,” said Gladys Cañas, who runs the group Ayudandoles A Triunfar. “What they’re saying as part of their testimony is that they were told to leave from there.”
There were no reports of deaths or significant injuries. But about 25 rudimentary shelters made up of plastic, tarps, branches and other materials were torched in a sparsely populated part of the camp. Many who lived there also apparently lost clothing, documents and whatever other modest belongings may have been left inside.