“The caravan protects, without it, you will not advance”: a new procession of migrants settles in Mexico

Par Marcelo Gaddi

Posted at 4:00 p.m. yesterday, updated at 4:20 p.m. yesterday

He carries his school notebook everywhere in the refugee camp, zigzagging between the foam mattresses. With his pen, Israel Lazo, 31, recounts his journey, which took him from Honduras, his native country, to Mexico City. It tells of the waiting, the hunger, the cold nights in the mountains of Mexico; the fear of running into a criminal group, too.

“The caravan allows you to protect yourself. Without it, you don’t move forward and, as a group, we are less vulnerable. Above all, the police do not have the right to stop us ”, he explains. He transcribes the police violence, reflects on the inconsistencies in the government’s migration policy and the difficulty of obtaining documents. Sometimes he just jots down the ideas that come to mind.

Israel Lazo, Honduran, is in a migrant camp in Mexico City on December 18, 2021. He is writing a book about his experience.

Purple American cap aimed at the skull, thin as a wasp under his checked shirt, Israel is part of this new caravan of 340 people which arrived in the Mexican capital on December 12. Hondurans, Guatemalans, Salvadorians… There are also Haitians, those who fled their island a long time ago and who lived in Brazil or Chile a few months ago.

Two streets from the Notre-Dame-de-Guadalupe Basilica, where they prayed to the Virgin to come to their aid, they were able to establish themselves on municipal facilities: an asphalt multisport field, covered with a white marquee under which a hundred mattresses and tents rest. Not far away, a trickle of soapy water runs through the tar to finish its course in a gutter; at the source, three cisterns for washing the body and clothes.

An unprecedented wave of migration

Mexico is living a pivotal year: for the first time, the country will process more asylum applications than the United States. In 2021, 123,187 people applied against 70,341 in 2019, according to the National Commission for Refugee Assistance (Comar). The authorities have arrested 230,000 undocumented people this year. “Mexico is under pressure on its two borders, south and north: on the one hand, migrants who pass through Central America, on the other those who are expelled from the United States and sent back here”, notes Sibylla Brodzinsky, spokesperson for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Mexico.

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“We don’t know when we’re going to leave”, sighs Jimy Castin, a 31-year-old Haitian. With his wife, Fara, and his daughter, Esther, they left southern Brazil, where they had lived for seven years and where the little one was born a few months ago. “In Tapachula, the border town with Guatemala, the wait to be regularized has been long. I was only given a “visitor” card which allows me to be here legally, but not to work or to enroll our daughter in school. “ The Haitians are the second community within the caravan, behind the Hondurans.

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“The caravan protects, without it, you will not advance”: a new procession of migrants settles in Mexico