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Violence pushes 100 families to flee Mexican town

By Javier Estrada, CNNMexico
  • About 300 people from Ciudad Mier, Mexico, have fled to a neighboring city
  • They cite increasing violence since the killing of a drug cartel boss
  • Schoolchildren are among those affected
  • A temporary work program is in the works

(CNN) -- About 100 families in a Mexican town near the border with Texas have abandoned their homes, not to seek better work or economic opportunities, but because of increasing violence that has hit the border state of Tamaulipas.

In all, about 300 people from Ciudad Mier, migrated to the neighboring city of Miguel Aleman seeking shelter, food and medical attention.

Since last weekend, Miguel Aleman opened a shelter in the city's center to recieve the migrants -- the majority of them poor -- who abandoned their houses as a result of the rising violence there in the wake of the killing of Ezequiel Cardenas Guillen, alias Tony Tormenta, co-leader of the Gulf cartel.

Among the refugees are almost 80 elementary school-aged children who have suspended their studies because of this exodus, Miguel Aleman Mayor Servando Lopez told CNNMexico. He described it as an exodus without precedent.

"[Tuesday] I had a meeting with education officials in the region to see about the schools. We are going offer support using our educational infrastructure to lend classrooms and so that the teachers from Mier can come here to give classes," he said.

The mayor said that the migration from Mier has been gradual, and that the first to arrive had enough resources to register in hotels or to rent houses or stay with relatives, but that this most recent wave are of lower economic means, including one woman who is 103 years old.

"Although we are in a conflict zone, Miguel Aleman is a municipality where its institutions have not stopped working, the different sectors of the economy have not stopped working," he said.

The mayor was asked: Will the violence in this area of the border increase? Will there be more internal migration?

"I can't make a prediction more than 48 hours ahead," he said.

In addition to the educational necessities that have arisen because of this migration, the city is working on a temporary workers program to place the refugees in productive activities.

"We are working on an outline for temporary work [with the state government] for as long as this situation lasts," he said.

For the moment, officials have asked for help from several sectors of the city, particularly medical institutions to cover the demand for medical attention and food.

And Miguel Aleman is considering opening a second shelter.