Deported Mexico Central Americans
According to Donald Trump, there are "many criminals" among the refugees from Honduras who approach the border between Guatemala and Mexico. Doctors, assistants and journalists who accompanied the caravan paint a completely different picture of the situation. Accordingly, it is by no means an "attack" on the USA, as Trump claims, but rather a humanitarian catastrophe moving at walking pace.
On Friday evening, dozens of migrants from Central America broke through the border with Mexico, climbed the border fence and on military jeeps. Men, women and children rushed to a bridge in Mexico a good 130 meters away. The rest returned to Guatemala after Mexican police officers used pepper spray. Some of the migrants threw stones. The police then closed the border gates again.
Earlier, eyewitnesses reported of families losing sight of each other, of fathers walking hundreds of kilometers with babies in their arms, of dehydrated children crying for water, of burned feet because the asphalt was in the midday sun heated like a stove top. In the southern Guatemalan city of Zacapa - from here it is around 2,500 kilometers to the US border - an exhausted mother is said to have passed her one-year-old child into a crowded minibus through the side window with the request: "Take it with you, bring it somewhere to safety . " There was no more room for them.
There is nothing to indicate that these people are criminals, but very much indicates that they are fleeing from absurd crime. The caravan started last weekend in San Pedro Sula, Honduran. For years, the city has been one of the places with the highest murder rate in the world.
The caravan has long been divided into small groups
There are no official statistics about the people who have embarked on the life-threatening path to a better life. At first it should have been 160. But in the past few days more and more desperate people have joined. The authorities in Guatemala now assume that there are around 5,000 refugees from Honduras on their territory.
It is not a coordinated trek, there are no recognizable leaders. The caravan has long been divided into small groups that advance at different speeds. Some have already turned back, the fastest have already reached Mexico's southern border. There are also moving scenes of Central American solidarity along the way. Guatemalans, who don't have much of their own, pray on the side of the road for the passing Hondurans, they hand them plastic bags with drinking water, dough cakes or give them ten quetzales. If the hikers ever reach what they see as the promised land, they will get around one US dollar for it, better than nothing.
In between, however, lies the great, unpredictable Mexico. It is especially difficult these days to predict how the government in Mexico City will handle the situation. It is not clear who actually rules here. The country is in the middle of the transition from the outgoing administration of Enrique Peña Nieto to that of his elected successor, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. He will officially take office on December 1st, but has been acting like the head of Mexico for months.
Videgaray has already announced that illegal immigrants will be deported
López Obrador's people were also significantly involved in the recently agreed trade agreement with the USA. And that's why it is not clear to whom Trump's threat is actually directed to militarily seal off the US southern border and sacrifice the trade agreement again if the Mexicans do not stop the caravan. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wanted to meet both Luis Videgaray, Foreign Minister Peña Nietos, and Marcelo Ebrard, a colleague of the López Obrador government, this Friday. He will probably hear very different strategies.
Videgaray is an old friend of Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner. He has already announced that illegal immigrants will be deported and sent hundreds of police officers to the border to prove their cooperation. There was applause from Washington for this. Ebrard, in turn, said the Trump threat had to do with the upcoming US elections. Deportations would not change the causes of the flight. His future supervisor, López Obrador, promised the migrants work visas in Mexico, and jobs at the same time. He wants to create several hundred thousand jobs in the impoverished south of the country anyway, through infrastructure projects and a large reforestation program. According to Mexican media reports, this has also been agreed with Washington as part of the trade agreements in order to counter the refugee issue with humanitarian methods - under the working title "Wall of Investments".
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