To the authorities
To the media
To national and international civil society
Upon learning of the departure of a new caravan of Honduran migrants, on January 11, the Vice Foreign Minister of Guatemala, Eduardo Hernández, stated that Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico together reiterated their foreign policy commitment to a safe, orderly and consistent migration process, where people’s safety is the priority.
On Wednesday, January 13th, the government of Guatemala decreed a “State of Prevention” in seven departments that border Honduras and El Salvador, in order to prevent the flow of foot traffic. Invoking agreement #1-2021, 15 days of mobility restrictions were decreed to restrict the movement of the caravan, and to prevent locals from helping them along the route. The government is using the pandemic as an excuse to prevent the migrants from crossing the border.
On January 14, a new exodus of migrants left San Pedro Sula Honduras. When they reached the border of El Florido, around 7,000 people managed to break through the police and army border blockade between Guatemala and Honduras, but another security contingent was waiting for them in Vado Hondo Chiquimula, Guatemala, where brute force was used to stop them. On Saturday the 16th, a caravan of about 30 Salvadoran migrants arrived, and as a patrol of the General Directorate of Migration and Foreigners was guarding these migrants, it was presumed that this Salvadoran caravan would join the Honduran caravan.
The Guatemalan government has activated National Civil Police Special Forces who are using tear gas to disperse the migrants, and Army soldiers who are armed with batons and beating those who try to cross through the territory. These actions have been endorsed by the government due to the “State of Prevention” that was declared, in stark contradiction to its commitment to safe migration, and in violation of the human rights of those people trying to continue on their way. Over the past weekend, the authorities held back the caravan in Vado Hondo, and demanded that the shops in the area close so as prevent the migrants from buying basic supplies. This means that migrants who are stuck there do not have water, food and any basic services, and are openly exposed to the elements.
What we are witnessing are thousands of young people, families, and even people in wheelchairs who are fleeing Honduras due to extreme poverty, structural violence and the impact of tropical storms Eta and Iota, people who have lost everything and who have received no assistance from the government of Honduras. The government has not responded to any demands for help and neither have they tackled government corruption and government links with drug trafficking. The tragedy is both national and regional, as Guatemala and El Salvador suffer from similar conditions.
While thousands of people are being held back in Guatemala, the Mexican authorities are preparing contingencies for when the caravan reaches the border of Mexico and Guatemala. The National Migration Institute, accompanied by the National Guard, already maintains a surveillance operation 24/7 at the border posts with Guatemala.
- Specific actions that should be taken to avoid refoulement (removing individuals when there are substantial grounds for believing that the person would be at risk of persecution, torture, ill treatment or other serious human rights violations upon return) and to meet humanitarian needs with a differentiated approach that takes into account gender, age and travel conditions.
- The role of the armed forces, including the Mexican National Guard, in the detention of migrants, as they are military bodies and do not have training to manage vulnerable populations.
- The total lack of attention of the Honduran government towards its inhabitants, as there has been no pronouncement from the President, and the Congress has only issued a statement that puts the blame on the government of Guatemala without assuming their own responsibility.
What Central American countries require is to engage in a full frontal fight against corruption and against the crime organizations that control the state apparatus. Central American countries should withdraw the power of validation and approval from the United States. Finally, Central American countries should focus on supporting their own communities with housing, employment, health and education. The US and Mexico must restore the right to asylum, and initiatives for broad immigration reform should be resumed. The entire region must comply with its national and international regulatory frameworks, especially regarding international protection and human rights. It is not the Armed Forces that should be resolving this humanitarian crisis and the addressing the need for decent living conditions. Central America requires real structural change for which the United States, with its history of control and intervention, is jointly responsible. It should now assume a role in the quest for peaceful and democratic solutions.
– The lack of humanitarian attention during these emergencies
– The militarization of borders
– The criminalization of migration
– The attacks mainly towards our Honduran brothers and sisters.
– The violation of human rights, and above all the violations of principles of democracy.
– Intolerable abuse, especially against women and children.
Given seriousness of these human rights violations, the attach on the dignity of people and, above all, the disrespect for International Conventions:
We demand that the governments Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico
- Accept the mediation of international entities including the Catholic Church.
- Address this humanitarian issue in an extraordinary meeting of immigration authorities with the mediation of foreign entities and experts in migration issues.
- Forge a deep solution to these serious problems of forced migration is necessary.
- Avoid the use of armed security forces so that a major tragedy does not occur.
- Respect the life and integrity of the members of the caravan and their right to migrate.
- Commit to guaranteeing the necessary living conditions, so that people do not have to emigrate.
- Investigate, analyze and explore the causes of the migration phenomenon, and provide guidance and assistance for migration.
- Address the patterns of corruption and impunity, violence and extreme poverty that plague many people and force them to migrate.
Given the millions of people fleeing from hunger, violence, gangs, drug trafficking, political corruption, poverty and exploitation, among other dangers, with the desire to find a safe place where to build a better life to them and their loved ones, Pope Francis has invited us to accompany migrants and refugees through these four actions: “welcome, protect, promote and integrate”
– La 72 Migrant and Refugee Shelter, Tenosique, Tabasco, Mexico.
– Casa “Frontera Digna”, Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico.
– San Francisco de Asís Community Cafeteria for Migrants, Mazatlán, Sinaloa, Mexico.
– Casa Betania – Santa Martha, Salto de Agua, Chiapas, Mexico.
– Hogar Franciscano Team, Cholula, Puebla, Mexico
– Pilgrim House of the Migrant “Santo Hermano Pedro”, Mezquital, Guatemala.
– Migrant Center New York, Inc, United States.
– Franciscan Network on Migration, -Honduras Team.
– Franciscan Network on Migration – El Salvador team.
– JPIC Franciscan Family, Guatemala.