After the caravans, migrants travel in small groups in hopes of reaching the United States

(Ciudad Tecún Umán) To avoid attracting police attention in Guatemala, illegal migrants trying to arrive in the United States are now advancing in small groups. Some travel with friends and others, like Gilberto, a 27 -year -old Venezuelan, with their dog.

Posted at 10:45 am

Henry MORALES ARANA
France Media Agency

“The economic situation there is very difficult. [au Venezuela], We will go. The salary does not allow us to buy anything, you have to buy everything in dollars and we will pay you in bolivar with no value, ”explains Gilberto Rodriguez, in the town of Tecun Uman, on the Mexican border.

For less than a dollar, it is possible from this city to cross in ten minutes in a certain boat the Suchiate river, which marks the border with the Mexican neighbors.

Gilberto left with Negro, his dog who has been with him since leaving Caracas two months ago. With him, the Venezuelan survived the dangerous Darien jungle, between Colombia and Panama, then crossed into Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and finally Guatemala.

An endless journey of several thousand kilometers, through eight countries, and he dreams of continuing all the way to the United States.

However, American justice has prevented the removal of a health measure implemented by the Donald Trump government during the COVID-19 pandemic to expel without delay migrants crossing without visas on U.S. land borders.

Unlike the situation a few months ago, when migrants were piled up in Mexico’s town borders, they are even rarer now. On the roads of Guatemala, police patrol and systematically inspect buses to check passengers ’papers.

Migrants then move into “smaller groups” that are quickly trying to enter Mexico, explains Alejandra Godinez, of the Migrant Welcome Office in Tecun Uman. “They split into several groups and then went to the Mexican side.”

Prevent “caravans”

Rubén Méndez, the mayor of Ayutla, the municipality where Tecun Uman is located, is convinced that Guatemalan police operations are preventing migrants from building new “caravans”, these road groups- hundreds or thousands of migrants who, since 2018, have crossed the country from Honduras.

Between January and May, Guatemala also expelled 303 Central American nationals, as well as 69 Venezuelans, 165 Cubans and 86 people of other nationalities.


Photo JOHAN ORDONEZ, Agence France-Presse archives

Migrants from Honduras were dispersed by police forces in Guatemala.

The last “caravan” of about 500 migrants quickly dispersed in January when it entered Guatemala. A year earlier, 7,000 people had been repatriated with truncheons and tear gas.

With his backpack on his shoulders, Gilberto explained that his goal in Guatemala was to escape police patrols who were taking advantage of it to “take money from us”.

Along the way, with his dog, a mongrel with a black and white coat, Gilberto experienced harmony. They often shared the same dish. Sometimes they sleep on the streets, because migrant shelters do not always accept animals.

The day before crossing the river, Gilberto, his dog and nine other migrants rested at the Maison du migrant, a humanitarian organization.

“We crossed mountains, rivers, canyons” and confronted the “police who were stealing from us”, said Moisés Ayerdi, a 25-year-old Nicaraguan who says he is fleeing poverty and political repression in his country where he left his wife and three. -year-old woman.

They all want to find work in the United States to send money to their families and then take them home.

On the Suchiate river, a raft made of wheels is maneuvered by a ferryman using a long pole. Once on the land of Mexico, the Negro dog jumped from his master’s arms and made his way to the shore. He is also “a migrant”, smiling Gilberto said.

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