Image: Luc Forsyth
By Steven Martin Kensington
Over a thousand Central Americans have been marching through Mexico the past week, on the way to crossing the US-Mexico border and seek asylum in the US. They are claiming to flee poverty, political unrest and violence, and come to seek a better life in the US. This has recently been revealed by Buzzfeed reporter Adolfo Flores, who has followed the caravan for the last few days. Flores says that
For five days now hundreds of Central Americans — children, women, and men, most of them from Honduras — have boldly crossed immigration checkpoints, military bases, and police in a desperate, sometimes chaotic march toward the United States. Despite their being in Mexico without authorization, no one has made any effort to stop them.
The caravan is organized by a group of volunteers called Pueblos Sin Fronteras (English: People Without Borders), and are seeking to help Central Americans reach the US, bypassing both authorities seeking to deport them and gangs and thugs known to assault vulnerable migrants. Pueblos Sin Fronteras counted around 1200 people participating in the march on the first day, 70% of which are from Honduras.
The immigration wave from Honduras is rooted in Juan Ornando Hernández being elected president there last year, causing political unrest and violence as a ‘highly contested election,’ according to Flores.
The participators of the caravan hopes to be granted asylum when crossing the border to the United States, or that US immigration authorities will completely ignore them crossing the border illegally. This is certainly an ambitious project for the Central Americans, especially considering that the United States now has a president which based much of his Presidential campaign on promising to restrict immigration from Mexico, and seeking to build a wall between the countries. This horde of illegal immigrants will impose a challenge on the Trump administration, however, as immigration authorities will have difficulties regulating about a thousand people flooding the border at once. They hope this to be the case. Rodrigo Abeja, one of the organizers of the caravan, said to the people before entering Mexico from Guatemala: ‘If we all protect each other we’ll get through this together.’
The caravan was organized into groups of 10-15 people before the journey started. Each of these have their own tasks in the caravan, for instance responsibility for food, security or logistics. They’ve also made it so that five groups constitute a sector in the caravan. The organizers say this structure is meant to make the migrants empower themselves.
Flores updated his story on Friday afternoon, announcing the caravan to currently be located in Santiago Niltepec in the state of Oaxaca in Mexico. This is still very far from the US-Mexico border, as they’ve only been marching through Mexico the past week, but the organizers estimates that about 2/3 of them seeks to end up in the United States (by asylum or illegally) when they get so far. The participants of the caravan has shown real persistence thus far, so the US government should really start discussing what they should do about this issue before they arrive at the border within the next few months.
Updates on the caravan can be seen regularly on Flores’ Twitter account.