Caravan of Central American migrants walking to the Guatemala – Mexico border
On Friday night, while watching the TV footage of approximately 3,000 men, women and children from Central America (mainly Honduras) heading en masse for the United States, I realised that embers – smouldering for so long – have burst into flame.
The migrants’ situation is absolutely tragic.
Why are they willing to risk their lives and their children’s lives by undertaking such a perilous journey – one of almost 3,000 miles – to a country where they know that they are not welcome. Those interviewed said they don’t want to leave their homes, but unemployment, the cost of living, gang violence, and scarcity of food have forced them to do so.
The precise number of migrants swells and trickles like the rivers they must navigate. When they come across kindness, food, and shelter, they stop to rest – but before long – they move on. The television screen showed parents pulling and coaxing their little children, and when I looked closer at the crowd, I saw more children struggling on their own. There seemed to be an inexplicable number of pre-adolescents with no adult watching out for them.
On Friday morning, the caravan arrived at the Suchiate River. (The river serves as the Guatemala-Mexico border) At the river, the migrants came upon a closed metal gate. Two military jeeps were parked to one side, and Guatemalan police in riot gear looked on silently.
The migrants called out: “We are not smugglers, we are immigrants.”
Faced with the locked gate, most of the migrants resigned themselves to follow established procedures, but a group of young men attacked the barrier and succeeded in tearing it down. In a flash, men, women and children rushed toward the bridge that spans the river. In response, the Mexican federal police deployed pepper spray. An officer used a loudspeaker:
“We need you to stop,” he begged the crowd.
The police eventually restored order on the bridge, and they closed the border gates again.
“One way or another, we will pass,” the migrants chanted.
The head officer told reporters that buses would take the women, children and the elderly to safety. But the migrants did not want to move. They regrouped and formed orderly lines but refused to board the buses. Obviously they fear deportation.
While the reporters summed up the events of the day, the television cameras took slow footage of the thousands of exhausted human beings on that bridge.
Then the station switched its information feed, and Trump’s countenance filled the screen. “The United States will not be a migrant camp, and it will not be a refugee holding facility. Won’t be. You look at what’s happening in Europe, you look at what’s happening in other places; we can’t allow that to happen to the United States. Not on my watch.”
Why couldn’t he have shown a little compassion – at least he could have expressed some sympathy – but he did not.
The trade talks of “the agreement formerly known as NAFTA” are sewn up. Our region is now a place where money and commodities will move freely over borders. But people? Ah, ah, ah – not so much.
The U.N. warned the Mexican and U.S. governments to respect the human rights of every person in the caravan and consider each case individually. This seems like the right procedure but the situation is so far from right.
I am reminded of the Spanish population fleeing Franco at the end of the Spanish Civil War – or the Jews trying to escape the Nazis during WW II – or the massive exodus of Serbs from Croatia – or the starving Rwandans – or most recently, the Syrians.
But there is one big difference: This is not happening on another continent, nor is the Caravan an event of decades ago. The Honduran caravan is traveling across the American continent NOW. Are we going to turn our backs?
If you are a person who reads, researches and reasons, you probably realise that more caravans will form. There are frantic people struggling throughout Mexico, Central and South America. There is too much imbalance in our world. Something has to give.
Examining the historical and current causes for this imbalance is important if a fair solution is to be found; we can’t allow more Band-Aids to be slapped over gushing wounds. But finding a fair solution is the province of lawmakers. What can be done? How can this process start?
Well, the November midterm election is coming, and I feel that American voters have a responsibility – not only to themselves – but to everyone on the planet. The rest of us have no voice, no say with regards to American immigration policy. Only registered voters can help moderate the voices in the American Congress and Senate.
On Election Day, if you are feeling complacent, think of those migrants on the bridge, and think of your own grandchildren who will inherit either a more just world or a huge mess.
Then – get out and VOTE – please.
P.S: The Christian right support Trump and his team – they profess to follow the Bible – and what does it say?
Matthew 25:40-45 New International Version (NIV)
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,
43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
P.P.S: You will have to watch 30 second ads first, but then you’ll learn more about the Honduran tragedy at these links: