Militant JournalismRefugee Caravan

Mexico embraces the Honduras caravanistas

Several hours after Veracruz governor Miguel Angel Yunes cancelled his promise to provide 160 buses for the Honduran refugees to be taken to Mexico City, the disappointed but determined people started on the road again at 3:00 this morning. Yunes said he was cancelling the buses because one of Mexico City’s two water sources is shut down for several days of maintenance, leaving many in the capital without water. But caravanistas did not buy that explanation.

Some 3,000 Hondurans walked or hitched truck rides the 44 miles from Sayula de Alemán, Veracruz state north to La Isla.

Mexican Red Cross and ambulance workers, La Isla, Nov. 3, 2018.

One thing stood out when we spoke with many caravanistas, their deep appreciation for the Mexican people’s kindness toward them. Institutions and individuals are providing support along the way for this extremely arduous journey.

Groups of hundreds are seeking every way they can to get to Puebla and later, Mexico City. Then, it is 1,200 miles to the U.S. border.

In just a few minutes time, we saw literally hundreds of men and women run and cram into a tractor trailer to the cheers of others as it left for Puebla. Even though groups are becoming separated, their goal is to gather again in Puebla and then Mexico City.

Another large flatbed truck drove off with dozens of people, including children, to Puebla. The young Mexican driver told us he brought them as “a work of charity. If we don’t bring them, they would be left behind and that isn’t right.”

Dr. Edgar Corzo Sosa, 5th General Visitor of the National Commission of Human Rights of Mexico, (CNDHM), explained that he and many other human rights commissioners have accompanied the caravan since they crossed into Mexico.

“We are in permanent dialogue with the federal authorities, immigration and the federal police, to remind them to see the humanitarian side, the humanitarian mission of this situation. All the people who are in our national territory, be they nationals or foreigners, we have a mandate for their protection.”

Each person on the caravan is given a laminated card detailing their rights as per the Human Rights Charter of the UN, including the right to healthcare, shelter and food. These provisions were on display tonight.

Despite the varied ways of travel, 3,000 Hondurans and a few Guatemalans and Salvadorans were able to bed down for the night in a massive warehouse in La Isla, provided by the municipality, while nurses and doctors, ambulance and sanitation workers, human rights commissioners and dozens of volunteers provided a ring of support, closing off streets for the caravanista protection and providing medical care for those who needed it.

Women served chicken, beans, rice and tortillas from giant cooking pots to all the participants. The support provided comfort for the night before the caravanistas headed out in the pre-dawn hours.

Mexican volunteers serving food to the caravan members, La Isla, Nov. 3, 2018.

Dinner, shelter and showers were a relief for the families and individuals, after they had spent another difficult day in the sun, walking many miles and scrambling onto trucks, trying to rest from weeks on the road.

María Selene Rendón, from La Isla, started at 9:00 a.m. to help serve food and was still there at 7:00 p.m. on the serving line. She said, “It makes me sad to see them struggling. They had to leave their countries and it must have been very difficult for them there. I hope to God they can reach their goal.”

Mariela Ordoñez, a 23-year-old Honduran trans woman, walked several miles and then got a ride to La Isla in the morning. She said, “I came because there is a lot of discrimination against trans women in Honduras, we have no opportunity for work, they want us to present ourselves with men’s clothes, and we are women.”

She also echoed the widely-felt appreciation for the Mexican people. “We feel very good about the way we have been treated by Mexico. Those helping us have never discriminated against us, not one of them.”

There was a great display of culture as a Mexican musical group from Sayula joined the caravan to provide wonderful “son jarucho” music to the laugher and “gritos” of many.

Tomorrow’s immediate destination is Córdoba, 120 miles north of La Isla. We will join the caravan as it heads out at 5:00 a.m.

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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