The new migrant caravan faces a frustrating situation when it finds itself without support, unlike the previous caravan
Mapstepec. – Honduran Madison Mendoza had her face burned and her feet hurt after walking for hours under the burning Chiapas sun. She was traveling with her two-year-old son and could not hold back her tears despite the fact that they were finally able to bathe for the first time, in a stream of water that fell in the middle of the street in Escuintla, a town 150 kilometers (93.2 miles) to the north from the border between Mexico and Guatemala.
I thought that on the way they were going to help me with the baby, my aunt had told me that people helped women,
said Mendoza, 22, who fled Tegucigalpa two weeks ago with practically no money due to threats from her son’s father – an active police officer.
However, the help did not come.
The massive solidarity that previous caravans of Central American migrants received when crossing Mexico to the north is now ignored, either due to the fatigue of the residents or, as some experts point out because discourse has been released that fuels prejudice against them. .
Gone was the help of churches, individuals, and local organizations that offered free food or transportation on trailer platforms, buses or small vehicles to lighten the journey that now only takes place very sporadically. And all of this has increased the frustration of many of those fleeing poverty or violence in Central America.
What distresses me the most is that the baby asks me for food and there have been days that I could not give him,
Mendoza lamented, who on Saturday arrived in Mapstepec, a town a little further north of Escuintla but still in the state of Chiapas.
Thousands of migrants remain stranded waiting for the Mexican authorities to grant them a temporary permit or visa to work in Mexico or, if not obtained, continue their journey to the border with the United States.
The priest Heyman Vázquez, the parish priest in Huixtla – a municipality on the same route – did not hesitate to point out the reasons why solidarity has decreased.
It is due to any campaign of discrimination and xenophobia that is being created through social networks and the media, which blame migrants for the insecurity in Chiapas.
This week there was an unsuccessful attempt to close the passage in that town to one of the migrant groups, and local authorities even issued a statement declaring an emergency and advising the closure of businesses because the caravan, they argued, represented a danger to local security.
Oscar Pérez, a merchant who sells pork carnitas at another point on the same route, the community of Ulapa, assured that the population got tired of supporting the migrants because it is said that “they have become aggressive and that is why they do not give them help. ”.
“Why are they going, if they are not allowed to pass (to the United States)?” Pérez wondered, although he admits that he does not know of someone who has been attacked by migrants, he insists that the people of Chiapas are poor but work instead of asking for help.
According to Father Vázquez, the only one that received support was the first caravan, the one that left Honduras last October and had more than 7,000 members. Since then, he maintained, hatred has been promoted. His parish is one of the few that has brought water and food to Central American families because “the rest of the Catholics are left with the idea they have and do not come close, they have many prejudices.”
This environment causes frustration to seize more and more Central Americans such as Geovani Villanueva, a 51-year-old Honduran who has spent 25 days at the Mapatepec sports center waiting for a permit, a visa, or some document that allows him to follow the route with his wife. his two young children and four other relatives who travel with him.
“I think it’s a government strategy to tire us out,” Villanueva said.
The National Migration Institute on Friday estimated at 5,336 migrants who are being treated in shelters or at the Siglo XXI migratory station located in Tapachula, almost on the border with Guatemala, and indicated in a statement that more than 1,500 of them were at the waiting to be returned. Without offering more figures, the INM assured that there are other groups on the move.
The National Human Rights Commission indicated this week that there are more than 9,000 migrants along the 150 kilometers (93.2 miles) that separate Mapstepec and the Chiapas border with Guatemala and urged the authorities to expedite measures to assist them. .
The United States has pressured Mexico to control migratory flows, and even President Donald Trump recently threatened once again to close the border, which is overwhelmed on both the Mexican and US sides. In March alone, Border Patrol agents detained 53,000 parents and children.
Regardless of the figures, there are tired families who sleep on the floor on cardboard or blankets, and with little to put in their mouths.
Nancy Valladares, a Honduran from Progreso, was hurrying on Saturday with her husband and two daughters in baby carriages. Once again, they could not find a vehicle to take them a section of the road.
Along with them, along 30 kilometers (18.6 miles), a hundred migrants marched that the federal police got off the platform of a truck.
The Valladares family is hopeful that in the United States they can cure their two-year-old daughter Belén, who does not walk, does not speak, and eats with difficulty because, as a result of Zika, she was born with microcephaly.
Upset and tired, some migrants no longer want to speak to the press and move slowly due to the exhaustion of many of the children. Along the way, they search for trees to take refuge from the burning asphalt of the road and pick mangoes and wild fruits from the trees along the way.
However, they do not give up. Villanueva and his family left the Honduran city of Tela because some gang members wanted to assassinate him for not paying extortion. He had several commercial premises. His departure was to save his life, so he is very clear: there is no going back.
New clashes between the migrant caravan and the Guatemalan police
The authorities held back, but the atmosphere remains tense due to the inevitable new attempts by the caravan to continue on its way to the United States
After the clashes that occurred this Sunday when the caravan of Honduran migrants arrived in Guatemala, this Monday the members of the march clashed with the Guatemalan security forces in a new attempt to enter the country and continue on their way to the United States. .
In Vado Hondo, in Chuiquimula, where the migrants were stranded because they were unable to advance, the National Civil Police (PNC) and members of the Army evacuated the road.
According to the authorities, they had warned the migrants to unblock the road , since the traffic had been interrupted and it is a commercial route. Nevertheless, the migrants, having nowhere else to go and determined to continue their march, have remained on the road.
Faced with this situation, at noon, the security forces began the eviction, but the migrants resisted, leading to new clashes.
National media report that Hondurans threw rocks, bottles and other objects at security agents. They responded with tear gas to contain the migrants.
The authorities say that PNC and Army agents have been injured in the confrontation, although they have not specified whether there are also injuries among the members of the march .
Migrants have been forced to retreat on Monday, and after the clashes, traffic on the road has resumed, although the atmosphere remains tense due to the inevitable new attempts by the caravan to cross the cordon imposed by the Government of Guatemala.
The authorities insist that they are preventing the passage of migrants because they are not complying with sanitary and immigration protocols .
In this sense, the Guatemalan Migration authorities demanded that Hondurans comply with the security protocols before the Covid-19 if they want to access the country, while, according to government data, 21 positives have already been detected among the group, twelve men and nine women, who have been transferred to the nearby Respiratory Well being Centers for quarantine before being sent to Honduras.
On Friday the caravan left Honduras with about 3,500 members from San Pedro Sula, although other groups of migrants have been joining.
In Guatemala, a State of Prevention has been in force since last week , which gives the green light to the authorities to resort to force to prevent the advance of the caravans.
In addition, the reproaches between both nations have materialized in a statement from the Guatemalan Ministry of Foreign Affairs in which its head, Pedro Brolo, reproached the Honduran Government for not complying with the commitments on migration adopted together with El Salvador, Mexico and the United States.