The first members of the migrant caravan reached the City of Mexico on November 3. They decided to go through the city, which would imply taking the longest route to the frontier with the United States, due to the possible support they could receive, since the City of Mexico is considered a sanctuary city since 2017. Around 5 thousand people settled in the El Palillo stadium, in a shelter improvised by the capital’s government (PRD) and the Transition Group (MORENA), which has been taking tasks as government despite it only enters office on December 1.
By Jenin Villa Roja, CST youth
Most migrants are young families with very young children, which were distributed in seven tents and the stadium stands. There was also a significant presence of unaccompanied underage children and of people seeking medical treatment on the North side of the frontier. An LGBT contingent, composed mainly by transsexual women, was as evident as the enormous rainbow flag that hung over a part of the restrooms.
Migrants were allowed free transit within and outside the stadium, and the metro was free. Within the establishment, migrants received free medicals services (even female reproductive health), besides juridical advise.
It was a long and exhausting journey to reach the City of Mexico. From the control of the Guatemala frontier, the “imaginary wall” that represented the much dangerous path through the South of the Country up to the city that offered them shelter, the migrants passed through all types of adversities and deceits. Just as it is common to all who cross Mexico to reach “the American dream”.
To reach the City of Mexico, the caravan passed through the state of Veracruz, where governor Miguel Ángel Yunes promised transportation for almost 5 thousand people in buses. After announcing 150 trucks and then lowering this number to 10, the migrants waited from 5 am in the place where aid had been promised. Here they found out that the state had cancelled the help. In the message shared hours later, Yunes justified that “due to the general water shortage” in the capital of the country, City of Mexico, it would be better for Central Americans to remain in the Veracruz State.
In this same date, the ombudsman of the Human Rights of Oaxaca, Arturo Peimberto Calvo, denounced the disappearance of 100 migrants who “jumped in to trucks who offered them rides” before the lack of transportation. An investigation was opened in the Puebla State regarding this case.
Day after day, the uncertainty grows among the migrant families. They are surrounded by national and international bodies (including the USA), who offer them the alternative with “less suffering” or risk of remaining in Mexico. The “Mexican filter” is producing its effect. The repeated “advise” to convince them to interrupt their journey generated an internal division in the caravan, which was expressed in their last assemblies.
While the original purpose was to walk together to guarantee collective security and exert political pressure, the hopes of some on waiting for trucks requested to the UN mission to continue their way divided them. The international body refused to supply the trucks. They argued that they “could not facilitate the transportation to the frontier if the Trump administration does not wish to receive them”. Besides, the elected government of AMLO, rejected to meet with them to negotiate transportation.
Tired of waiting, a part of the migrants retook their march before the time established by the assembly. The migrants who decided to wait one more day were mainly those with small children, which explained why they requested the trucks.
After continuing the march north, problems deepened. The Jalisco governor, Aristóteles Sandoval Díaz, decided not to provide shelter for the caravan due to supposed denunciations that they were consuming and selling drugs. These facts were not verified at any of the places through which the Central Americans passed. For this reason, those who were already in shelters in this state had their passage restrained in the urban areas. “We recommend them to go straight to where they are going”, stated Sandoval.
Tijuana: from Hell to Desperation
However, the worst part of their march awaited in the frontier city Tijuana, where a wall separates it from the North American city San Diego. A xenophobic demonstration was pushed and led by inhabitants of the Colonia de Playas in Tijuana, which went to the place where some migrant families were settled and assaulted them. Police went to the place, but the Colonos said they would only retreat if the migrants left the place.
The local government was openly xenophobic with the migrants, justifying repressive and violent actions. The Tijuana Mayor, Juan Manuel Gastélum, described the migrants as “bums and potheads, who smoke in the street and assault the families in the Tijuana Beaches”. Gastélum accused the migrants of having “an unknown leadership, and therefore, representing a seriously unsafe situation… These people came here with an aggressive, rude attitude, with songs, defying authority, doing what we are not used to do in Tijuana and this is not fair, all Mexico must now: this must come to an end…”
The city of Tijuana has declared a state of humanitarian crisis, besides demanding financial support from the Ministry of the Interior. According to Gastélum, the local government has spent half a million pesos per day. On the other hand, Gastélum announced that he will carry out a popular consult to the citizens on whether to provide shelter to the migrants. “In Tijuana, we are carrying out a consultation to know if the citizens wish us to continue receiving these migrants, these people, who I repeat, are not all migrants because they defy authority, they climb the fences, they affect the Tijuana citizens, they do not accept medical or social assistance”. If the result is negative, “we will see how we expel those who are already here and we will have to set checkpoints in Tecate so no more can enter,” he said.
Before hostility and the poor infrastructure to receive them, Central Americans were led to desperation. At least 200 of them left the shelter towards the frontier checkpoint in San Ysidro. Impatience led them to cross the frontier at any cost, although Donald Trump had authorized to open fire against them. The images of the attack on the Border Patrol last Sunday were disseminated around the world.
No to AMLO, no to Trump: No Trust in the Governments
In a polarized Mexico, there are many complaints in social networks regarding the caravan, due to repeated attempts of different sectors of the bourgeoisie and labor bureaucracy of capitalizing confusion in their favor. For example, they ask why Honduran migrants receive the support denied to those affected by the earthquakes one year before, many of whom are still waiting for a reply from the government. Afterwards, there was a strong process of displacement of native populations victim of the violence of the State in Chiapas. Governor Manuel Velascos (PV) seems to wish to be remembered by the population of Chiapas this way. This situation generates doubts among many Mexicans who are disputed by the different political projects in the midst of the government transition. They think, “If there is not enough for us, how can we help those arriving?”
Many accusations and rumors emerged since the beginning of the caravan regarding the Central Americans being paid to influence the political situation. The USA State Secretary, Mike Pence, even said the migrants had been paid by Venezuela. Others speculated Donald Trump himself had paid the Honduran migrants to be able to use his xenophobic speech to win the recent mid-term elections. On the other hand, the Honduran government blames its political opponents of the ex-president Manuel Zelaya’s party. Finally, some sectors in Mexico believe that everything was a plan to destabilize the country in the eve of AMLO entering office. In times of fake news, conspirative theories are more surreal than before.
No human is illegal! All support to the migrants!
Workers of Mexico must not yield to confusion disseminated by the great communication means. From our class’s perspective, there is no sense in blaming those who flee from generalized disintegration of their country due to a coup d’état supported by the United States. We are always the first affected by the bourgeoisie’s attacks due to the economic crisis. Our first task is to question for whom the Mexican and North American State are working. There must be no doubts, the attention granted to Hondurans in the capital of our country, nationally known as the “bubble of rights” in the midst of chaos, is an international policy. To convince “kindly” the caravan to accept refugee in Mexico is not actually filled with humanitarian motivations. It is an elegant way to obey North American orientation and sustain the policy of harmony that would sustain the new (and detrimental) free trade agreement.
The working class and the poor people of Mexico must organize to receive these people. More than a caravan, it is an exodus of workers fleeing the situation out of control generated due to the re-colonization of our continent so that national and imperialist bourgeoisies are able to sustain their profits before the deep international economic crisis. To understand that workers from different countries have more similarities amongst ourselves than our similarities with the bourgeoisie and their representatives from our own nationality is essential to ensure a dignified life without oppressors or exploiters.