The first 2020 caravan of migrants arrives to Mexico

One of the biggest challenges that the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, faces is the migration flow in his country and neighboring countries.

Migrants outside the facilities of the National Migration Institute (INM) in Tapachula, Mexico.

Migrants outside the facilities of the National Migration Institute (INM) in Tapachula, Mexico. / Photo: REUTERS - Jose Torres - Reference Image

LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Suárez

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Leer en español: La primera caravana de migrantes de 2020 llega a México

To the pressure that has on the part of the United States to stop the number of migrants that arrive at the border every day is added the constant arrival of people from other countries of Central America in search of going through their country to reach their final destination and complete the American dream.

The last major challenge in this area is currently going, but not in its northern border, but in the southern part, where more than 5000 people have gathered to get to Mexico while fleeing their countries. Upon arriving at the Rodolfo Robles bridge, which connects Guatemala with the Mexican state of Chiapas, the caravan found the doors closed and a Mexican national guard preventing the passage.

Most are from the country that connects the bridge, Guatemala, but others come from Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras and installed emergency camps while they gain access to Mexico.

The Mexican president, meanwhile, has been determined not to allow the passage. On the one hand, because the intention of migrants is to cross the country until they reach the United States, which would cause problems with their namesake Donald Trump. On the other hand, because the tens that fail to cross the border, or even reach it, would remain undocumented in Mexico.

Given the response of AMLO to prevent the passage at the border and send the presence of the National Guard, the Ministry of National Defense (Sedena) and the National Migration Institute (INM), migrants delivered a message to the authorities that should be handed over to the president where they requested that free transit be allowed.

With slogans such as "We are migrants, we are not criminals. We are international workers", thousands of Central Americans gathered in the past few days. The caravan that started with around 2,000 people, for the following days already had around 4,000.

To try to solve the crisis, the president said in his usual morning press conference that Mexico has more than 4,000 jobs on the southern border. Thus, with the intention that migrants do not continue their way north or try to reach the United States. “Of course, shelters and medical care, everything. But I work in our country. My ideal is: full employment, work for all, ”said López Obrador.

AMLO, on past occasions, has also tried to encourage the creation of jobs in neighboring countries so that people do not have to flee from them from the beginning and avoid the migration flow, which is stipulated in a 2019 agreement with the United States.

During the days of pressure on the border, a few hundred migrants attempted to access Mexico in large groups through the Suchiate River. This river is crossed by the Rodolfo Robles bridge, where the caravan was concentrated. When the passage was prevented, many proceeded to jump into the river and try to enter by that route. At this time, the National Guard, which tried to throw tear gas into the crowd, could not stop the migrants, who threw stones to pass.

However, authorities prevented the passage of hundreds of them and the government reported that 402 people had been transferred to the National Migration Institute (INM) and face the possibility of deportation.

For now, the response of the INM to the massive pace and need of attention of many of the migrants has been to make an assisted return to their countries of origin.

Read also: Mexico in CELAC: the revitalization of Latin America and the Caribbean

This caravan is the first of 2020, but it is not the first that the current Mexican president has had to face. When he began his term, in December 2018, another caravan arrived from Honduras and that was the first major challenge his government had. For this reason, AMLO has changed the way they proceed from that caravan to today.

With the 2018 caravan, the president decided to grant thousands of 'humanitarian visas' to migrants to remain in Mexico instead of trying to cross into the United States. But despite the number of people, he had to establish order because there were migrants throughout the country. Many had even reached the northern border, which caused a strong confrontation with President Donald Trump.

Since then, López Obrador's vision of migrants has hardened. The president has gone on to strengthen the northern border with militias that impede the passage, which has managed to decrease in recent months and for what the US government has valued the effort.

But the other great challenge has been not to neglect the southern border, where all Central American migrants come from. In that attempt is that the president has created at least 20,000 jobs, according to statements by his Foreign Secretary, Marcelo Ebrard. But at the same time, it has strengthened the borders with a military presence, which has caused confusion among migrants.

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