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Mexico slams Texas buoys as ‘inhumane’ as 2 bodies found in Rio Grande



Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador condemned the floating barriers that Texas has deployed to deter migrants in the Rio Grande as “inhumane” as Mexican authorities confirmed the deaths of two people in the river in separate incidents.

In a statement released Thursday, Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said authorities had not been able to identify a body found on the buoys the previous day, as it had no form of identification and no one had come forward to claim it.

A second body also found in the river on Wednesday is believed to belong to a 20-year-old Honduran man, whose mother identified his tattoos, according to the statement. Authorities said further tests were needed to confirm the identity because of decomposition. The Associated Press reported the body was found three miles upriver from the buoys.

Both the Mexican and U.S. federal governments have strongly opposed the buoys, which are part of the $4 billion campaign of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) to secure the state’s border with Mexico. The plans, known as Operation Lone Star, also include ferrying migrants to other states and sending Texas state police officers and National Guard troops to the border.

Mexico has described the floating barrier as a violation of its sovereignty, while the U.S. federal government has brought a lawsuit against Texas and Abbott over the buoys, saying that the barrier was built without federal approval as required by the Rivers and Harbors Act. The White House has described the plan as “dangerous and unlawful.”

Justice Department sues Texas over floating barrier on the Rio Grande

Mexican authorities said Wednesday that the Texas Department of Public Safety had informed its consulate in Eagle Pass of the presence of the body on the southern part of the buoys, and noted that the cause of death was not yet known.

“Preliminary information suggests this individual drowned upstream from the marine barrier and floated into the buoys,” DPS Director Steve McCraw said, according to the AP. The DPS did not immediately respond to an overnight request for comment from The Washington Post.

Responding to press questions Thursday, the Mexican president said the Foreign Ministry was continuing to demand the removal of the buoys, which he said were “a violation of our sovereignty and also of human rights.”

Asked what message he would send to the Texas governor, López Obrador said: “That it’s inhumane … that no one should be treated this way.”

Texas began installing what’s expected to be a 1,000-foot system of buoys near Eagle Pass in July. According to the government lawsuit, each buoy is between four and six feet in diameter.

In a statement announcing the Justice Department’s lawsuit against the barrier, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said that in addition to lacking federal authorization, the system presents public safety and humanitarian concerns, and “risks damaging U.S. foreign policy.”

“Texas will see you in court, Mr. President,” Abbott said in response, in a letter addressed to President Biden, and accused the government of failing to prevent illegal immigration.

Mexico’s foreign minister, Alicia Bárcena Ibarra, said last week that the buoys obstruct and divert the flow of the river, contravening two treaties between Mexico and the United States. Much of the barrier is on Mexican territory as well, according to the minister.

Other drownings have taken place on the Rio Grande, including near Eagle Pass. Four people died in the area while crossing the river on the Fourth of July weekend, according to authorities in Texas.

Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.

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