Thousands of Central Americans crossed the Suchiate River on Thursday, on the border with Guatemala, under the scant surveillance of the authorities, but they offered the Mexican government order and requested refuge in a formal manner.
Carrying flags from their countries, such as Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua, and banners with the words “We want to talk to the president directly”, the migrants left early in the morning and have walked more than 10 kilometers from Ciudad Hidalgo to the municipality of Frontera Hidalgo, in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas.
There, the Central Americans decided to seek asylum from the Mexican government, as President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador initially offered, on the condition that they obtain free transit at least in the state of Chiapas.
And in this way, evade the controls of the National Guard, which this Monday frustrated, even with some blows and tear gas, the entrance of the caravan by the Suchiate River.
“Right now, what we are going to do is attend to the call of the president, take the request, he has promised us that they are not going to touch us with a request in our hands, that’s what we are going to do. If they touch us, I don’t know who is lying there, but we are going to comply,” Honduran José Luis Morales told Efe.
Just on Monday, between 500 and 1,000 migrants from the first caravan of 2020, which totaled up to 5,000 people, crossed the Suchiate River next to the Rodolfo Robles Bridge, which divides Guatemala from Mexico, where members of the Mexican National Guard detained 402 Central Americans.
The National Institute of Migration (INM) reported that another 40 returned to Guatemala on their own and 58 others went into the jungle, in addition to a cumulative total of another 679 Hondurans deported by air through Villahermosa, Tabasco, and by land through Tapachula, Chiapas.
On Thursday, the migrants crossed through another point of the river to evade the National Guard, which is preparing an operation with 200 members on the road of the municipality of Metapa, a few kilometers north of where the group is located.
Despite the fact that the crossing was unexpected and without any response from Mexican immigration authorities, the Central Americans promised this Thursday to walk in peace.
“We traveled because it is the only way they might have mercy and let us travel up. My destination is the United States, but if I can stay in Mexico I will stay because it is a great advantage for me, that here we are supported by all Mexicans,” Honduran Marco Tulio Polanco told Efe.
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
During the caravan’s journey, Mexican activists accompanying the migrants confronted officials from the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (Comar) to demand that they respect the nearly 2,000 asylum applications they have counted in recent days.
Mexico’s Roberto Marquez, who has been helping the caravans since 2018, said Central Americans are disappointed with the federal government’s promises to offer humanitarian visas and up to 4,000 jobs in the southern part of the country.
“People are already tired and feel offended, so this is a reaction to that reality. Now, (they have) this story there that they’re going to come and bring them a bunch of papers and make them sign something there, but what happens is that it’s just something to entertain people,” he argued.
On the other hand, the Chiapas State Human Rights Commission (CEDH) accompanied the Central Americans to prevent violations of their guarantees, as has happened in recent clashes with the authorities.
“We also have the support of the International Red Cross and verify that people who are, especially in a differentiated way, the treatment of families, children and adolescents, pregnant women, older adults,” detailed Angel Milton Nuñez, general visitor of migrants of the CEDH.
The National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), questioned for its passivity in the face of the events at the border, issued a statement on Thursday, in which it assures that its officials are collecting complaints and in which it also condemns “all acts of violence against the integrity of migrants”.
MARCH FOR THEIR LIVES
Unemployment, poverty and, above all, the struggle to save their lives due to insecurity are the experiences that Central Americans most often tell to explain the abandonment of their countries.
In the middle of the caravan a flag of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community also stands out, with a contingent of around 35 people who see in Mexico an opportunity to escape from the homophobia and transphobia of the Northern Triangle of Central America, made up of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
“It is an opportunity where we can all go out and get a better quality of life mainly because of society’s rejection of us. For them, there it’s like you’re a freak, when you’re not. And our human rights have never been respected,” said Pedro, a young gay man from Guatemala.