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Outrage grows over U.S. Border Patrol’s killing of Mexican youth

Published Jun 16, 2010 4:31 PM

A June 11 demonstration in San Antonio, Texas, to protest the killing of 14-year-old Mexican student Sergio Adrián Hernández Huereka by a U.S. Border Patrol agent placed the blame for his killing on the U.S.’s militarization of its border with Mexico.

Hernández Huereka was shot and killed on June 8 as he played with friends near the border in Cuidad Juárez, Mexico, across the river from El Paso, Texas. His body was found in Mexico with a spent shell casing nearby, raising the question of whether the fatal shot was fired inside Mexico.

In a press release announcing the protest, the Southwest Workers Union said, “President Obama’s decision to send an additional 1,200 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border is what caused the death of an innocent Mexican student.”

Mexicans are seething over this death, the second in two weeks at the hands of the Border Patrol. On May 28, 42-year-old Anastasio Hernández was beaten and tasered to death on the border between San Ysidro, Calif., and Tijuana, Mexico. He had lived in San Diego for 26 years. Hundreds protested this killing on June 3. (Workers World, June 10)

Last week in Arizona a Border Patrol agent pleaded guilty in federal court to a criminal civil rights charge for assaulting a Mexican citizen by punching and kicking him. Sentencing is set for August.

A wake for Hernández Huereka was held in the family’s house on the outskirts of Cuidad Juárez on June 9. On an unpaved street more than 30 family and friends gathered around a simple grey metal casket, calling for justice.

His sister, Rosario Hernández, sobbed and cried out, “Damn them! Damn them!” María Guadalupe Huereka, his mother, said, “May God forgive them because I know nothing will happen [to them.]” (Associated Press, June 9)

Above the casket was a photo of the youth wearing his soccer uniform and his junior high school report cards, which showed grades of all As and Bs. His mother said he was a good student who never got in trouble.

Prosecutors in the Mexican border state of Chihuahua have concluded that Hernández Huereka’s death was an intentional homicide and have turned the case over to federal prosecutors for further investigation. Lawmakers from both the ruling and opposition parties have demanded the extradition of the agent for prosecution in Mexico, although Mexican President Felipe Calderón has not given any indication his government plans to seek extradition. Instead, Calderón called for a thorough U.S. investigation that “clears up the facts and culminates with punishing those responsible.”

The FBI, which claims the youth was throwing rocks at the agent, has now opened a civil rights probe.

In an open letter to the families of the recent victims as well as the people of Mexico, Latin America and the world, Unión del Barrio, a revolutionary Mexican organization based in California, said: “We are clear that these attacks are part and parcel of the genocidal legislation fabricated and elaborated by the U.S. government. These acts did not happen in a vacuum, isolated from the climate of hate, racism and discrimination that are part of the very fabric of legislation such as [Senate Bill] 1070 and the policy of the militarization of the border.”