By: Blanche Petrich
Their stories are similar and different. In their cities or towns, in Honduras or El Salvador, the minimum spaces for surviving are closed to them. They killed one woman’s uncle for being homosexual. They killed another woman’s brother because the family, poor and hard working, didn’t want to pay more extortion to the gangs. To some Hondurans it’s because: “we have a president that governs very badly and orders the army to pursue us.” To another, who only lacked one month to finish high school, her mother threw her out on the street: “I prefer to know you from afar than to see you dead.”
The migrant caravan, which began its journey towards Mexico City on March 25 and that has been in the capital for three days, was received yesterday at the Casa Citlaltépetl Refuge by the Secretary of Culture, Eduardo Vázquez, and the president of the capital’s Human Rights Commission, Nashieli Ramírez, to dialogue with some members of the cultural community and indigenous collectives, desirous of seeing them in person and listening to them. In that exchange of words, tears came from both sides.
This caravan organized by Pueblo sin Fronteras (People without Borders) “will go down in history for two reasons,” maintained the leader of the MesoAmerican Migrant Movement, Marta Sánchez. “First, because it made Donald Trump end up being naked before Mexicans and it made President Enrique Peña Nieto dare to tell him his truths. Second, because it gives us the opportunity, as activists, to place our struggle so that this government doesn’t continue doing the dirty work for the United States, arresting migrants before they reach the northern border.”
Among the 1,800 undocumented Central Americans that began their annual Víacrucis Migrante (Migrant Way of the Cross) in the middle of Holy Week is a group of young transgender women, like Marjori Alexandra or Roxi. They have become friends along the way and share the same tragedies. Maras, police and organized crime have made hate crimes a new sport.
In front of poet David Huerta, filmmaker Paul Leduc, immigration expert María Luisa Capella, La Jornada writers Pedro Miguel and Hermann Bellinghausen, actress Dolores Heredia, journalist José Reveles, anthropologist Lucina Jiménez and dozens of representatives of indigenous collectives of residents in the city, they told the avatars of the road, stopping in shelters and occasionally bumping into threatening immigration authorities. Two hundred children are also traveling with them.
That collective of 1,800 migrants, said Rubén Figueroa, an activist that has facilitated the reunion of hundreds of families in recent years, is only a fraction of which enters through the border every day. It is estimated that there are between 2, 500 and 2, 700 daily. They advance hidden in the brush, hidden and trafficked in trailers, where they are sometimes asphyxiated. Thousands of others are brutally deported and sometimes they disappear without leaving a trace. There are more than 70, 000 names that don’t appear on any paper, 10 years ago, because the government of Mexico doesn’t even have an effective mechanism to look for them.
We are here because of solidarity, and also because of shame: Leduc
Before their stories, Paul Leduc responded after listening to them: “We are here because of solidarity, but also because of shame because we must recognize that the reception in Mexico cannot be idealized; they are not going to find the answer they need here.”
Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Batel, whose father founded the Casa Refugio 19 years ago to honor Mexico’s asylum policy that his grandfather implemented, General Lázaro Cárdenas, to receive Spanish and Jewish refugees, expressed: “many of us do want you to be here, who don’t want our country to be the guard dog of the United States.”
Seated a half meter from Cárdenas, an elderly Triqui woman held up a leaf of paper that proclaimed that same thought: “Our country is your country.”
Of the contingent that left Tapachula, (Chiapas) a little less than half continued their path towards the north. A few more stayed in cities through which they passed to seek there a secure destiny. And between 600 and 700 others will still remain in Mexico City while they define their next steps.
Meanwhile, according to Anahí, a young woman migrant that has learned to change her two-year old baby’s diaper very fast and on her knees, civic organizations provide them with a place of rest, food and care. There are three families that travel together, from the same sector of San Salvador, with their small children and with an uncertain future. “We didn’t expect to see so much help, so many people determined to fight for us. Thank you, many thanks for not discriminating against us for being migrants,” she concluded.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee