Militant JournalismRefugee Caravan

Caravan refugees leave Mexico City for trek north

Mexico City

With the Honduran refugees in their fourth day in Mexico City, the main question for the members was how to proceed in their northward quest to the United States.

Last night, after the High Commission of Human Rights of the United Nations rejected their request of buses for safe travel to the U.S. border, the almost 5,000 caravanistas in Mexico City decided to wait no longer.

This morning the caravanistas decamped and began northward, with many headed for the next stop of Querétaro, Mexico. Others decided to try to get bus rides to Tijuana.

Each night in general assembly in the capital city, caravan participants had debated the issue of whether to proceed immediately or recuperate for a few more days. The other major issue was which border town to enter, whether Tijuana bordering California, or Reynosa or Laredo bordering Texas.

Frustration and anger was mounting at the refusal of the UN or Mexican federal authorities to provide safe passage to the border.

The Mexico City government announced it was prepared to provide shelter, food, medical and other services for 15 days.

The stadium complex near Benito Juárez International Airport has become a virtual city, with some 10 gigantic tent structures that house the more than 5,000 Honduran women, women and children, as well as a smaller number of Guatemalans and Salvadorans.

One characteristic defines them all: each person can no longer bear the suffering and extreme poverty in their home countries, the growing government repression and extreme violence of criminal gangs. Their determination to have traveled 1,200 miles so far is evidence of the crisis they experienced at home.

In the last two days, there is a growing and militant demand by the refugees that they be given safe and organized transport to the United States border, by bus.

They were cruelly deceived when the Veracruz governor Miguel Ángel Yunes announced that 160 buses would carry them last Saturday to Mexico, only to cancel two hours later. Many believe it was the federal government that pressured him to cancel. Of course, there are also the threats from the Trump government.

After that deception in Veracruz, the caravan refugees were then left with dangerous traveling conditions. In pre-dawn hours from La Isla, they started undeterred, jumping on huge tractor trailers or riding hundreds of miles packed in the back of pick-up trucks. The states of Veracruz, Puebla and Oaxaca they had to pass through last week are so dangerous due to narcotics and human traffickers and mass killings that the region is known as the “Mass grave of Mexico.”

Yesterday, the caravanistas took direct action at the United Nations Human Rights Commission. At 1 PM, a delegation of 250 Hondurans, Guatemalans and Salvadorans marched in a spirited manner to the United Nations headquarters in Mexico City. Carrying a Honduran banner and chanting, “¡Queremos buses! (we want buses),” and “El pueblo unido jamás sera vencido (the people united will never be defeated),” they demanded to be granted the status as refugees that they are, and given bus transport without delay.

Bartolo Fuentes in press conference in Mexico City, Nov. 6, 2018. Liberation Photo: Gloria La Riva
Bartolo Fuentes in press conference in Mexico City, Nov. 6, 2018. Liberation Photo: Gloria La Riva

That point was driven home by leading Honduran journalist and opposition activist Bartolo Fuentes, who has defended the Hondurans fleeing their country for years before this refugee caravan started its trek.

Fuentes has been accused of being responsible for initiating the caravan by the Honduran foreign minister and right-wing media. He has even been accused of paying each refugee to leave the country. Piled on top of these unfounded charges is the false claim that both the Venezuelan government of Nicolás Maduro as well as billionaire George Soros financed the caravan.

In a press conference on November 6 at the stadium encampment, Fuentes blasted his government and reporters who also repeat these claims, saying, “Caravans have been leaving Honduras every day. Even the website of the Foreign Ministry admits that 250 to 300 people leave the country each day. So then, what we have with this caravan is the aggregate of 20 days. Instead of traveling alone, they joined together and left.

“The government is so cynical that what concerns it is not that the mothers are leaving, nor that they endure the hot sun and rain. No! What bothers the Honduran government is that they are visible in leaving, and the world is watching the tragedy we are living.

“This caravan is changing the manner in which the people of Honduras are leaving. That is what is relevant.”

Fuentes exposed the double standard of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, when they provided all transport and accommodations for Venezuelans leaving their country, as a political weapon against the Venezuelan government, while ignoring the Central Americans’ plight. Fuentes demanded the same consideration for the Honduran caravan.

With so many people temporarily camped after spending more than three weeks in grueling travel through Honduras, Guatemala and southern Mexico, the calm and patient attitude of the refugees is remarkable. But this is not unusual nor unexpected. They are hard-working people who only want the right to live, for themselves and their families.

The Liberation News team of Gloria La Riva and Adán Plascencia has accompanied the caravan for more than a week.

It is more important than ever for independent and progressive media to show people in the U.S. an accurate view of what is going on south of the border, and how decades of U.S.-backed interventions, coups and “free trade” agreements have caused so much devastation in Latin America. This is a crucial part of building international workers’ solidarity and building a real movement of resistance to the ultra-reactionary Trump agenda. Please make an urgently-needed donation to support the Liberation News team led by Gloria La Riva.

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