JUAREZ, Mexico — Local authorities are investigating the murder of a Cuban migrant stabbed late Thursday in a working-class neighborhood south of Downtown.
And while officials haven’t determined if Osmany Baldemira Pavon, 40, was the victim of an assault by strangers or perhaps was killed by one of his own roommates, authorities say tensions are running high among many migrants waiting in Juarez for asylum hearings in the United States.
Baldemira was stabbed around 11 p.m. on Thursday in an alley known as Calle Espejo and died two hours later at the Femap hospital in Juarez, said Alejandro Ruvalcaba, spokesman for the Chihuahua state police.
Ruvalcaba said Baldemira suffered several stab wounds, one of which pierced a kidney. Ruvalcaba said the case remains under investigation and declined to say if there is a suspect.
Neighbors along Calle Espejo said at least four Cuban migrants were staying at the apartment where Baldemira was killed, and that as many as 10 Cubans are sharing small, run-down apartments in the area.
Neighbors told KTSM that the migrant was stabbed during a fight just outside his apartment. Large blood stains covered the sidewalk and alley on Friday morning. The neighbors said Baldemira had been arguing with one of his own roommates before he was stabbed. Juarez officials would neither confirm nor deny the neighbors’ account when asked by KTSM.
Enrique Valenzuela, director of the Chihuahua State Population Council, which oversees the Migrant Assistance Center in Juarez, confirmed that Baldemira was a Cuban citizen on the waiting list to apply for asylum in the United States.
Valenzuela on Friday was trying to find out the circumstances of Baldemira’s death and whether family members needed assistance. The state official said there is growing tension among the Cuban migrants in Juarez, due to the lengthy waits for their asylum hearings, and because they are low on money and must live in “challenging” conditions.
“Despite the best efforts of local authorities, Juarez has its public safety shortcomings. They are somewhat vulnerable because they don’t know the city and they may expose themselves to certain situations or risks in some parts of the city,” he said.
Ruvalcaba and Valenzuela said Cuban authorities would be contacted to make arrangements for the burial of Baldemira.
A number of Cuban migrants interviewed outside the Little Havana restaurant in Downtown Juarez say they are trying as best they can to cope with months-long waits for their asylum hearings.
“Nothing bad has happened to me so far, but I keep to my work and then I go to my hotel room. We hear about crime in Juarez all the time, but we are good so far. We’re just here waiting… and waiting,” said Carlos, one of the cooks at the restaurant.