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Mexicans Return After Shooting At Political Rally

February 18, 1985

EAGLE PASS, Texas (AP) _ Most of the 59 Mexicans who spent the night in Eagle Pass after fleeing across the border following a violence-laced political rally returned home today, but two were detained for questioning.

Fifteen of the people who fled the rally at Piedras Negras, Mexico, on Sunday walked across the International Bridge today, but 40 others, fearful of Mexican police waiting on the other side, were bused to Del Rio for their return across the border.

Two of the aliens were detained for questioning by immigration officials about possible involvement in shootings at the rally, said C.E. Cunningham, an Immigration and Naturalizations Service inspector.

Another refused to return, although he had not asked for political asylum, and one was given permission to stay to visit his wife, who was wounded at the rally, Cunningham said.

More than 100 Mexicans fled across the border Sunday when gunshots left up to four people injured during a political rally across the border in Piedras Negras, said David Carmichael, border patrol agent in charge at Eagle Pass. All but the 59 had returned home by late Sunday, he said.

Mexican state police reported three people were wounded in the violence, while Mexican municipal police reported four injuries.

Haime Garza Gonzalez, 44, was granted permission to remain in Eagle Pass temporarily to visit his wife, San Juana Montes Garza, who was carried across the border after being shot in the leg during the rally.

″The police are responsible,″ Garza said. ″They are the only ones with arms (guns).″

Jose Gabriel Espinoza, who earlier said dozens of the Mexicans would demand political asylum, was ″adamant″ about his refusal to return, although he had not asked for asylum, Cunningham said.

Cunningham said he was waiting for word from superiors before deciding what to do about Espinoza.

Espinoza said he and others want shelter in the United States until the Mexican government can guarantee safeguards for some whose lives they say are in danger because of the political upheaval in Piedras Negras.

The mad dash across the Rio Grande occurred after police rushed a crowd blocking the bridge, Espinoza said. He said the incident occurred during a peaceful rally by about 3,000 people to protest the state’s failure to settle a dispute over the Dec. 2 city elections in Piedras Negras.

Espinoza and other dissidents are supporters of the opposition National Action Party that contends Institutional Revolutionary Party ″stole″ the election from them. The IRP dominates Mexican politics.

Piedras Negras was the scene of political violence Dec. 29 that left one man dead, at least 80 injured and the municipal complex burned. That violence also was in protest against the disputed Dec. 2 election.

Edward Leija, a U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service inspector, said at least one woman was shot when a gunman began firing.

″All we know is that somebody fired shots and that people hit the ground or started running,″ said Leija.

Felipe Perez, the local judicial police commander, blamed the shots on one of the National Action supporters, but Espinoza said none of the demonstrators had weapons.

Eleazar Cobos, National Action’s mayoral candidate in the disputed election, charged that the judicial police incited the violence by shouting ″gross words″ at National Action supporters attending the rally.

″The people decided to block the international bridge,″ he said. ″The judicial police gave the people 10 minutes to unblock the bridge, but before that time they began to rush into the people and push them and shoot.″

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