By Lizbeth Diaz
TAPACHULA, Mexico, Sept 15 (Reuters) – Hundreds of migrants marched along one of the main avenues of a southern Mexican state on Wednesday, where thousands have been held back by authorities in their attempt to cross the country to arrive, mostly , to the border with the United States.
Shouting “we are not criminals, we are international workers”, the migrants, mostly from Haiti, traveled a road from Tapachula, in the southern state of Chiapas – on the border with Guatemala – where they have been stranded in some cases for months waiting for paperwork. migratory.
Many of them come from Brazil and Chile, where they arrived long ago, fleeing the poverty of the Caribbean island, hit by earthquakes, the coronavirus pandemic and social and political unrest.
The massive presence of migrants has overwhelmed Tapachula and thousands of them live and sleep in the open on the streets, going hungry and suffering due to the impossibility of being treated at the Siglo XXI migratory station, which despite being the largest in the country can only host just under 1,000 people.
“We are begging them to let us leave Tapachula, they are starving us (…) migration mistreats us, hits us and they have not helped us with anything,” said Juliana Exime, a 30-year-old Haitian, who told Reuters who has been in that city for two weeks.
The woman denounced that the state Mexican Commission for Aid to Refugees (Comar) does not speed up its procedures to continue on its way to the north of the country. “They are liars (…) We are sleeping on the street, in the rain, we are getting sick, they want to kill us and even more with that disease,” he said in reference to COVID-19.
“WE ARE VERY AFRAID”
Migration officials and military personnel have been denounced for containing with great violence the growing migratory flow that enters the south of the country, especially from Central American countries that are plagued by poverty and violence.
“We want them to let us go where we can work, we don’t want to go to the United States, we want an opportunity,” said Ana Leslie Martin’s, a 48-year-old Honduran, who claims to be sleeping on the street with children and grandchildren.
“We are very afraid,” said the woman who left Honduras with her family after her husband, who worked as a taxi driver, received death threats if he did not pay extortion, known as a “war tax.”
The United States has asked Central Americans not to undertake the dangerous journey north to try to cross into its territory in the hope of achieving better living conditions. It has also pressured the government of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to contain them.
Joe Biden’s arrival in power in January also brought a record rise in the number of Central American migrants attempting to cross into the United States undocumented, as well as cases of minors traveling alone whose arrests while crossing the border have reached highs of 20 years in the last few months.
Mexico has deployed security forces, including the heavily militarized National Guard, to blockade groups of migrants, which include entire families and children in their arms.
Human rights defenders have warned about the risks run by the tens of thousands of migrants crammed into Mexico’s northern and southern borders, where they are often kidnapped, killed or victims of scams. (Written by Ana Isabel Martínez, edited by Adriana Barrera)