Hondurans march towards Mexico seeking a better future

As living standards in Honduras deteriorate, more and more people are leaving the country in search of a better life.

Hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers gather at the border crossing into Mexico on January 18 [Jeff Abbott/Al Jazeera]
Hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers gather at the border crossing into Mexico on January 18 [Jeff Abbott/Al Jazeera]

Ayutla, Guatemala – Hondurans taking part in a caravan of more than 4,000 migrants and asylum-seekers hope to pass militarised Mexican border checkpoints on Saturday.

Paula Dolmo, a 30-year-old from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, stood near the bridge with her two sons as a group of more than 200 migrants and asylum-seekers attempted to negotiate their way into Mexico. She says she fled Honduras due to the lack of opportunity.

“We want opportunity. As a single mother, [I think] we need to leave our country because we are subject to corruption, without education and healthcare,” Dolmo told Al Jazeera.

The Guatemalan Migration Institute estimates that more than 4,000 migrants and asylum-seekers have entered the country since Wednesday, as part of the latest migrant caravan.

“The truth is we do not want to be in this position,” Dolmo said. “But the situation in our country obliges us to go.”

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Small groups of the caravan began to arrive at the Tecun Uman border crossing in Ayutla, Guatemala, on Friday. Thousands more are expected to arrive at the border Saturday and Sunday.

Early on Saturday, Dolmo joined several hundred migrants and asylum-seekers as they attempted to enter Mexico.

The migrants and asylum-seekers displayed the Honduran flag and changed “Out with JOH”, a chant that emerged following the contested re-election of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez in 2017. They crossed the bridge over the Suchiate River and neared the border crossing into Mexico.

“Mexico knows well what conditions we live under in our country,” Dolmo said. “We hope they will give us the opportunity to enter.”

The caravan was met by Mexican military dressed in riot gear and immigration officials who blocked their progress. The military police and immigration officials closed the gate to impede the caravan’s progress after a brief confrontation.

Hondurans have seen a deteriorating standard of living in the last 10 years. Poverty and crime have gone up as opportunities have evaporated. Many in the caravan also point to the corruption within the Orlando Hernandez administration as being a contributing factor to their decision to leave.

A Honduran migrant looks through the fence at military police in riot gear along the Guatemala-Mexico border [Jeff Abbott/Al Jazeera]

Efforts to curb corruption in Honduras have been met with resistance from the government and, on Friday, President Orlando Hernandez announced he would not be renewing the Organization of American States-backed Mission to Support the Fight against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras.

While Hondurans have taken to collective exodus in recent years, the massive caravan that formed in October 2018 caught the world’s attention. Other caravans formed in the following months.

On Saturday, migrants and asylum-seekers waited under the hot midday sun along the bridge over the Suchiate River for Mexico to once again open the gate. They used bedsheets to fashion small shades to escape the heat.

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After several hours, the Mexican National Institute of Immigration began to permit small groups through for processing.

Many are hoping that this will permit them to receive work after Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Friday that his government was monitoring the situation along the border, and stated that there were 4,000 jobs along Mexico’s border.

While many migrants and asylum-seekers aim to reach the United States, for Jose Zaldivar, a 34-year-old from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, the option presented by the Mexican government is ideal, as he hopes to go to find work in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo.

“They are saying they will allow us in and that we will be offered work in Mexico,” he told Al Jazeera as he grasped his paperwork in a manila folder. “If we don’t find anything, then we come back again.”

The Trump administration has pressured Mexico to stop the number of migrants and asylum-seekers reaching Mexico’s border with the United States. It has forced asylum seekers to remain in Mexico as they await their case, as well as signed asylum cooperation agreements with Guatemala and Honduras, which allows the deportation of asylum seekers to those Central American countries.

Source : Al Jazeera

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