Caravan: The quest for a future without violence
Imagine waking up one day not knowing if you are going to be able to have a decent meal, water or a bed? Have your living conditions ever been so difficult to the point that you weren’t sure if you would make it alive by the end of the day? I hope not. Sadly, that is the case for almost 7,000 people walking through Mexico right now.
Sometimes we take for granted the privileges we have. Being able to go for a walk or have a nice brunch with friends is unreal for some people. The worse part, it’s not only a financial issue; the problem is the ongoing violence that surrounds them. Corruption, lack of work and gangs (Mara Salvatrucha, MS-13) threatening their lives have made escaping the only viable option for this group of people. The desperation has led them to seek refuge in the U.S.
Not everyone will make it to the U.S. They know that, but at this point, risking their lives for a possible “yes” from the U.S. is better than giving up at home. By now, there are three caravans traveling from Central America to the Mexico – U.S. border.
Did you know?
The migrant caravans have been going on for the last 10 years? Every year, a caravan with hundreds of people leaves Central America to the U.S. and central Mexico in an effort to seek asylum and shine light in the violence and economic struggles these countries face every day. The main goal is to eliminate the indifference towards their stories, pressure the Mexican Commission for Refugee Aid (COMAR) to review thousands of pending asylum applications and apply for asylum in the U.S. This year, the caravan has grown significantly and it’s determined to seek refugee status in the U.S. There could be some success stories, but it’s still too soon to tell.
Jorge Ramos spent a few days with the caravan; here’s his experience in Real America with Jorge Ramos.
Here’s what we know so far:
March: 1,500 Central Americans initiated their journey in Guatemala through Tapachula, Chiapas.
April: Once in Puebla and the center of Mexico, 1,150 migrants dispersed and stayed in the region. Some applying for Humanitarian visas.
May: 350 migrants made it to the Tijuana border. Among them, 88 had the opportunity to request refugee status with the U.S. – still unsure if asylum was granted reports Inmigración.com.
October 13th: According to the UN, a group of 3,000 Hondurans initiated the caravan crossing the Mexico border through Tapachula, Chiapas. Throughout their journey more people have joined increasing the caravan to 7,000 migrants from different nationalities.
Mid-October: Almost 900 Hondurans have requested assistance to be sent back home. Poor climate conditions, physical exhaustion and lack of resources and basic supplies have made this journey extremely dangerous for the group.
October 24th: According to Aristegui noticias, 1,743 have requested refugee status recognition in Mexico.
October 28th: Refugee shelter set up in Juchitan, Oaxaca for migrant caravan.
October 28th: Following the initiative of fellow Central Americans, 150 migrants from El Salvador have begun a separate caravan. The government of El Salvador asked the group to reconsider such a dangerous journey, but it seems staying home is equally as bad.
What is being done to help?
This is a complicated situation. Mexico asked the UN for help to find a humanitarian and efficient solution. While the Mexico government is still trying to stop as many migrants as possible, warning them of the dangers that come with this journey and closing the Guatemala – Mexico bridge, the government is working closely with the UN to file as many refugee applications in a timely manner, provide medical care and set up shelters for the migrants that have made it across so far.
What can you do? Stay informed. Follow their journey, listen to their stories and help fight the negative stereotypes about immigrants and in this case, asylum seekers.
Know of anyone who has gone through a similar process? Share their stories. Make them an example for their fellow migrants.