The death of a 7-year-old in Mexico has drawn fresh outrage as students, clergy, lawmakers and others continue protests over the death of a 13-year-old last week.
Most of the protests in Tula, a city on the central Mexico State of Mexico that just a few years ago was near quiet, have been peaceful. On Tuesday night, however, security forces in riot gear used water cannons to disperse demonstrators throwing objects and building barricades. But they did not fire on any of the dozens of people who ran after the military trucks.
According to officials, Lili Elba Suarez González was born on the day her father was deported to Mexico from the United States. Family members say the girl fell ill with a kidney infection and died on Monday afternoon at her home in Tula. Lili had been in a coma, but her cause of death has not been determined.
“This could have been prevented,” said Hector Camacho, director of Tula’s Jovem Hospital. He said that two Guatemalan nurses had visited the girl on Friday, one of whom called her “beautiful” and asked to visit again. One of the nurses did not know how to communicate with the child’s relatives in Spanish, he said.
His comments evoked a statement by Secretary of Interior Jorge Winckler that emerged on Twitter on Monday, in which he described Mexicans there who care for U.S. deportees as un-Mexican.
“In Mexico, there are many undocumented immigrants from other countries, some with overstayed visas, who receive free services from the health and educational systems but don’t hold a passport, and therefore aren’t considered Mexicans,” he wrote.
Throughout the day, there were conflicting accounts on the origin of the child’s illness. The local doctor’s office said it was more likely that her poisoning came from “nontraditional means.”
“It is more likely she had a kidney infection, not due to poisoning, but rather from using a traditional insecticide,” said Cesar Morillas, a researcher at a nearby research institute. “I think she contracted it, then, at one point she drank some pesticide and fell sick.”
Tulane University scientist Carlos Caceras said that arsenic poisoning is also not uncommon in Tula.
“The situation is grave,” said Orlando Ruiz, the father of two children who live there. “We have little idea of what happened, but as a father, I feel like I have a responsibility to my children.”
He said he was frustrated that nothing much has been done since his youngest child was killed, and that he had heard nothing from health officials. He said he was grateful for the water cannons, but he thought the incident would be calmer if the relatives were allowed to accompany health workers into the building where the child lived.