Central American Migrant Experiences Through Mexico

Anastasie Lenoir, Katrina Manrique, Sarah Mayorga, & Nicole Rapista

In 2017-2018, the caravana migrante, or migrant caravan, composed of Central American migrants fleeing violence, political repression, and economic instability, started to make its way from the Northern Triangle through the Guatemala-Mexico border, and the Mexico-United States border. Men, women, and children from the countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras are migrating in large numbers in the hopes of finding freedom from such societal instability to create better lives for themselves and their families. When traveling in the caravan, volunteers, humanitarian groups, shelters, and churches have offered assistance to the migrants as they make the hard, and dangerous journey north. Although some agencies are interested in helping the migrants, others often make their journey one that is similar to the very reasons and experiences in which they have fled their country for. Since the 1990’s, the US-Mexico border has become a heavily militarized, cold welcome for migrants as border patrol operations like “Operation Hold the Line”, the Merida Initiative, and other advanced operations have deterred migrants, and often ignored asylum claims. With such operations being implemented at the US-Mexico border, the US has put increasing pressure on Mexico to secure their borders, which has resulted in little to no government support of migrants, and institutional and economic legacies of the drug war taking place in Mexico allowing for the exploitation of Central American migrants through economic violence.

As migrants make their journey through Mexico in the hopes of reaching the US, they are often subject to rape, robbery, kidnapping, human trafficking, exploitation, and other forms of abuse, while also facing dismemberment and death through migration transportation such as “La Bestia” and physical landscapes. Central American migrants are the main actors in this case, but the US and state/non-state actors in Mexico are also key actors as they often make or break the migrant experience in terms of how migrants are able to, or not able to, receive the support they need on their journey. As mentioned, the United States’ rigorous immigration and asylum seeking process along with the pressure it puts on Mexico has resulted in Mexico itself committing human rights violations against Central American migrants as migrants are often deemed as using Mexican resources and taking jobs away from Mexicans. This belief system on behalf of Mexico then perpetuates the violence committed against migrants in the name of capitalism and economic gain. It has been said by scholars, journalists, and those who aim to provide support for migrants on their journey through Mexico that Mexico has often times ignored the ways in which non-state actors are violating migrant safety and rights. State actors are ignoring the migrants needs as they are not providing them with the aid they need in order to be able to move through Mexico without the fear of being abused and violated. Legal and government institutions are also not allocating and directing funds intended for migrant support, which leaves the migrants with little to no resources besides the ones given to them by churches, volunteer organizations, etc., on their journey. Central American migrants themselves are seeking rights within Mexico to be able to work and provide for themselves and their families without the fear of violence and abuse perpetrated by Mexico. Migrants have personally voiced their struggles of having to deal with injustices and human right violations within Mexico that are similar to the ones they have faced in their home countries, and that such experiences are not only disheartening, but also reinforces their main goal: to get to the United States.

This case is not only relevant as the migrant caravan continues to make its way north, but it also highlights some complex human rights issues in regards to Latin America as a whole. Each of the actors in this case are a part of Latin America and share identities based off of that association, but what we see with this case is that Mexico is committing human rights violations against Central Americans, which is problematic as Mexico itself has been subject to human rights violations. It seems as though there should be a shared sense of struggle and compassion in terms of both Mexicans and Central Americans facing violence, abuse, and instability within their own countries, and wanting to flee those circumstances. Instead, Mexico has used Central American bodies as economic vessels, which has left Central Americans vulnerable and dehumanized on their migration journey.

To understand how and why such human rights violations are taking place in Mexico against Central Americans, it is necessary to understand the reasons behind Central American migration and how violence has taken form within Central American countries to influence people fleeing them. It is then necessary to look at the history of Mexican institutions that have allowed for such economic, political, and social instability that has then translated into the migrant experience of extortion, robbery, kidnapping, human trafficking, and even death in Mexico. In analyzing these concepts, the journey of Central American migrants can be acknowledged to create an environment in which their rights are established and protected.

For more information on Central American migration in Mexico, visit: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1SdolmxMUc-57aBY-lxd3Wozlaj6wggpFn9o-ex3OHF4/edit?usp=sharing

Annotated Bibliography

“9 Questions (and Answers) About the Central American Migrant Caravan.” WOLA

Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas. October 22, 2018. Accessed February 20, 2019. https://www.wola.org/analysis/9-questions-answers-central-american-migrant-caravan/.

This article was written by a prominent advocacy organization for human rights in the Americas. It answers nine basic questions about the Migrant Caravan, such as who is part of it, who the key players are (government and non-government), and what is currently going on in the region. For instance, it talks about why people are leaving and specifically in this moment, if Trump can cut aid to Central America, why people are traveling as a caravan, why there is so much vitriol in the public discourse, what Mexico’s policies are towards the caravan, and touches briefly upon their situation in Mexico. I think this article will be useful for our paper because it provides a succinct and bird’s-eye-view summary of the situation, which helps frame our paper to both have a macro and micro- analysis and connect the complex points of history how it led to severe contemporary issues.

“Alliance for Progress (Alianza Para El Progreso).” John F. Kennedy Presidential Library

and Museum. Accessed March 11, 2019.

https://www.jfklibrary.org/learn/about-jfk/jfk-in-history/alliance-for-progress.

Castillo, Manuel A. “Mexico: Caught Between the United States and Central America,

Migration Policy Institute, April 2006, https://search.oecd.org/development/pgd/43082688.pdf (accessed February 18, 2019).

This article from the Migration Policy Institute is an informational/informative piece that gives a brief history of Central American migration to Mexico and the refugee/border situation in the country. The article focuses specifically on the Mexican State of Chiapas and the Guatemalan immigrants within the state. The article first discusses the history of Chiapas in relation to Guatemalan refugees. It states that Chiapas has been a historically agricultural, impoverished community and that after the 1970s, Guatemalan migrants were able to work seasonally in the state. After the various civil wars in Central America took their tolls on the livelihoods of Central Americans, Central American migration to Mexico skyrocketed and Mexico had to find ways to deal with the influx on immigrants. Certain policies were implemented to try to ensure humanitarian protection and assistance. The fact however remains that migration is not easy and Central Americans face human rights violation like robbery, rape, extortion, and other corrupt practices on their way through Mexico. In the 1990s and until this day, there has been increased pressure from the US to secure the Mexican border and in doing so, has further promoted deportation policies. The end of the article states that much needs to be done in terms of protecting immigrants and creating rationale immigration policies. The author of this article is a professor at the University of Mexico and he specializes in demographics and urban planning. Castillo’s background is important to this article as it focuses on different communities and how immigration could affect the social and urban landscape of countries like Mexico. The intended audience of this article could be anyone interested in Central American migration, the experience of migrants, and the future of immigration policy. This article’s importance lies in its ability to document the history of migration in Mexico and how it has shifted in recent years due to the pressure the US is putting on Mexico to secure their border. This article is useful for our research as it provides factual information on migration through Mexico, but also highlights the process of seeking asylum and how pre-existing policies and new policies need to be improved to ensure that Central American migrants are protected in and on their journey through Mexico. The article provides evidence that through their journeys, Central American migrant bodies are commodified and exploited for their monetary value through the forms of violence mentioned in the article. This article also prompts questions about what exact policies would help the situation of Central Americans in Mexico.

Corchado, Alfredo. “Central American migrants face grueling journey north”, The Dallas

Morning News, 2014.

This article from The Dallas Morning News documents the experiences and stories told of and by Central American migrants in Mexico. This article is not necessarily an argumentative piece, but more of a field report in the way in which it collects personal, first-hand accounts of Central American migration through Mexico. The article discusses the hardships that Central Americans face while traveling through Mexico and mentions “La Bestia” and other dangerous methods of migrant transportation where the migrants are subject to rape, robbery, and death. The article also mentions that Mexico has been taking more measures and implementing more policies to deter migrants, which often makes their journeys harder and more dangerous. The author of the article is an award-winning journalist and author who covers Mexico, and specifically the US-Mexico border along with the drug wars and corruption in the country. Given that Corchado is on the “front lines” so to speak as he places himself within places and environments where current events are actually taking place, his authority over the subject matter he discusses in his article is strong as he is interacting with and telling the actual stories of the Central American migrants embarking on the difficult journey north. The article is presented in different sections that focus on different regions in Mexico and the stories told are of Central American migrants who are traveling these busy migrant routes. The sections focus on migrants in the areas of Tenosique, Palenque, Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, and La Patrona. A different story is told by each different migrant that Corchado has interviewed. In Tenosique, Honduran migrant Jose Adolfo Orellano Lopez and his friend Melvin Anderson Solidre have been washing car windows for tips. Orellano says that while traveling on the train, they are “exposed to the world” and their fate is “more than ever at the mercy of people.” In La Patrona, Doña Leonidas discusses her want to help the migrants as she delivers them food and other goods. She states “we didn’t know who they were, or where El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras was…now they’re part of our family.” In providing such stories and experiences, the author is able to connect emotionally with the audience and emphasize the reality of the migrant experience and those who help along the way. The importance of this article is that although it doesn’t provide hard statistics or historical background surrounding Central American migration to Mexico, it puts into perspective that actual human beings are facing terrible human rights violations, while ultimately braving out the journey and continuing on their quest for a better life. This source is useful to our research as is provides first-hand accounts of the migrant experience, and serves as a primary source to prove that such hardships are not only taking place, but also the dynamics between migrants and the Mexican population. This source will also be helpful when discussing state actors, and non-state actors and how they interact with migrants and ultimately shape their experiences. The distinction between those who want to help and those who want to hinder will be crucial to understanding how and why Central Americans are facing such human rights violations.

Dibble, Sandra. “Central American migrants move north through Mexico in new caravan”,

The San Diego Union Tribune, 2019.

This article focuses on the ways in which Mexico’s new president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has been trying to implement new policies that will benefit and provide assistance to Central American migrants making their way north through Mexico to the US. The article states that more recently, the president has been trying to welcome the migrant caravan and provide them with one-year humanitarian visas, which is more help than they have received in the past. In doing so, the migrants are able to live and work anywhere in Mexico without fearing deportation. Although many migrants have applied for the visas, they still hope to make it to the US. The article provides quotes from migrants stating that the economic situation in Mexico is similar to their home countries, and therefore; it’s the US or bust. The article also provides information from the Mexico Immigration Commissioner who states that the country’s goals now are to provide assistance to the migrants and enact policies in the correct manner. Towards the end of the article, the author mentions the president of the US, Donald Trump, and how his anti-immigrant sentiments challenge Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s efforts to ensure the humane treatment of Central American migrants in Mexico. The author of this article is a journalist who covers the US-Mexico border and other international and multicultural topics. Although this article is brief, it draws the attention of a wide and broad audience who is interested in the migrant caravan, US-Mexico relations, migrant humanitarian assistance, and political figures like Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Donald Trump and their political platforms. The importance of this article is its ability to highlight the ways in which Mexico is trying to improve in terms of the treatment of Central American migrants. Our paper will focus largely on the hardships and struggles that immigrants face while traveling through Mexico, which often includes commodification, extortion, and other forms of structural violence, but this article provides a sense of hope in that Mexico is trying to improve the rights that migrants possess within the country. It is important to discuss how state actors are enforcing such forms of violence which we have gathered evidence of, but this paper provides accounts of state actors engaging in the opposite activities which aim to help migrants. In addressing state actors and non-state actors in Mexico in regards to human rights violations, it is important to discuss the different actions being taken and how these actions challenge one another and affect how Central Americans experience migration through Mexico.

Del Frate, Anna Alvazzi. “When the Victim Is a Woman.” In Global Burden of Armed

Violence 2011, 113-44. Vol. 2. 2011. Accessed February 21, 2019. http://www.genevadeclaration.org/fileadmin/docs/GBAV2/GBAV2011_CH4_rev.pdf.

Found within the same report as “Characteristics of Armed Violence”, “When the Victim is a Women” focuses on the intersection between armed violence and gender. It does so by introducing the concept of femicide and then analyzing its relationship to armed violence, intimate partner violence, and other hidden forms of gender violence. While this article does not exclusively focus on Latin America nor migration, it provides several useful charts and graphs that identify Central American country’s rate of femicide. In Fig 4.6, for example, it analyzes femicide trends amongst El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and the United States over a 5 year period. It also breaks down difference between male- and female-violence. This data will again be used as a way of comparing data from the past with current data on gender violence. Furthermore, it provides a general framework of what identities, communities, and intersections to consider when discussing violence.

El Salvador: Another Vietnam?Directed by Glen Silber and Teté Vasconcellos. Performed

by Mike Farrell. Internet Archive. Accessed March 11, 2019.

https://archive.org/details/elsalvadoranothervietnam.

Estrada, Andrea. “The Migrant Caravan and Central American History A Failing Social

Order Has Led to an Exodus from Central America.” Santa Barbara Independent, December 17, 2018. Accessed February 20, 2019. https://www.independent.com/news/2018/dec/17/migrant-caravan-and-central-american-history/.

One of the key features of this article is that it shines a light on how the mainstream media in the US has grossly and deliberately de-historicized and decontextualized the crisis in Latin America – particularly absolving the US of any wrongdoing or role in the destabilization of the region. It expounds on the intricate web of globalization, agribusiness, tourism, and corrupt political institutions and their hegemonic hold on Latin America. For example, from the era of 1990s-2000s, came a powerful wave of globalization where transnational agribusinesses were able to set up giant plantations and upscale tourist complexes for the wealthy while the locals were stripped of their land and served as peasants for oil plantations and farms owned by foreigners. This will help our paper because it gives a strong argument for how the mainstream news may not provide the most accurate representation of the crisis. By providing a deep historical analysis, we are able to properly contextualize the current situation in Latin America.

Firearms Trafficking in Honduras. August 2017. Accessed February 21, 2019.

https://www.insightcrime.org/images/PDFs/2017/Firearms-Trafficking-Honduras.pdf.

“Firearms Trafficking in Honduras” is a report published by InSight Crime and the Asociacion para una Sociedad Mas Justa. This report exclusively provides context towards the arms trafficking occuring within Honduras, one of the countries within the Northern Triangle. This could provide more specific context as to why Hondurans are leaving Honduras. The report is helpful for our dossier for three reasons. First, it discusses the failure for Honduran institutions to account for and regulate the sale of arms. Second, it identifies neighboring countries (i.e. El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico) and their influence on Honduras’ firearm trafficking. A primary focus of our dossier is to discuss how institutions within Latin America contribute and perpetuate to injustices happening in Latin America. Third, it provides data on the Honduran military supply of firearms. Since the military is considered an institution, the data provided in this section can help us identify how institutions such as the military contribute to the mass migration of Hondurans and Central American individuals.

“Firearms within Central America.” United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Accessed

March 11, 2019. https://www.unodc.org/documents/toc/Reports/TOCTASouthAmerica/English/TOCTA_CACaribb_firearmssmuggling_within_CAmerica.pdf.

González, Yaatsil Guevara, Sheldon X Zhang, Gabriella E Sanchez, and Luigi Achilli.

“Navigating with Coyotes: Pathways of Central American Migrants in Mexico’s Southern Borders.” The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 676, no. 1 (2018): 174-93

This article explore the effect of the migrant shelters as a social environment on the planned and actual trajectories of the migrants of their way to the United States.  It also explores the relationships between the coyotes and migrants and describes them as mutually beneficial and part of the economics of the Mexican society. Smuggling has become and industry and business for many people and they attempt to use the migrant shelters and ways to obtain more business, which the shelters do not approve of and  causes tension and problems. It also discusses the social impact of the migrant shelters within the communities they arise in. Racism and fear play a role in the impact of these shelters. This article helps to demonstrate further the perils and assistance that migrants face as they travel. This article helps our group to once again demonstrate the economic impact of human smuggling and the lack of interest in the Mexican institutions to either change their policies or protect migrants.

Goodman, Colby. “US Firearms Trafficking to Guatemala and Mexico.” Wilson Center.

April 2013. Accessed March 11, 2019. https://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/US Firearms to Guatemala and Mexico_0.pdf.

Huerta, Amarela Valera. 2017. “La Trinidad Perversa de La Que Huyen Las Fugitivas

Centroamericanas: Violencia Feminicida, Violencia de Estado y Violencia de Mercado.” Debate Feminista 53 (January): 1–17. doi:10.1016/j.df.2017.02.002.

Every year, there are about 200,000 – 400,000 Central Americans from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador who cross Mexico in order to migrate to the United States. 25% of these are women. The paper focuses on the factors that caused the Migrant Caravan to happen and argues that it should be considered a “forced migration” of people. Furthermore, it considers the migration a resistance against three forms of violence from the state, the market, and the patriarchy. The essay uses ethnographic data from the Caravan of Central American Mothers and research by Central American feminists. One strength of the paper is that it characterizes the different factors that led to the Migrant Caravan: violence from the state, the market, and the patriarchy. For example, for state violence, it argues that migrants experience extortion from public officials such as the police or are victimized by the criminal networks that are administered and protected by the state. As for problems with the market and the patriarchy, migrants are affected by the violence stemming from the neoliberal market that affected all areas of their daily lives and allowed for the use of violence against women (p.3). In particular, women migrate not for leisure but for survival, in order to rescue their daughters and mothers from the violence in Central America. They seek to migrate in order to gain a life of dignity. Another strength is that it continues to break down and expound on these factors cohesively: first, the neoliberalization process of the region, second, a reflection on feminicidal violence, and third, delving into the violence that comes from the market and femicide violence from necropolitical violence.  One weakness of the paper is that it does not discuss much the history of women’s rights in Central America and why women experience and disparity in rights. According to her website biography, the author, Amarela Valera Huerta is a PhD in Sociology from the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona (Autonomous University of Barcelona) with a specialty in migration from the Pontificia de Comillas University in Madrid and a degree in Journalism and Coommunication Sciences from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (Autonomous University of Mexico). Furthermore, she is a member of the National System of Researchers in Mexico. As we continue to discuss human rights, we also have to be aware that not all human rights/laws are created equally and there are populations that still fall through the cracks. This is where abuse happens. This paper is important because it tackles the severe importance of writing laws that specifically protect women, especially in places like Central America where violence against women is rampant.

Kelly, Patty & Kovic, Christine. “Migrant bodies as targets of security policies: Central

Americans crossing Mexico’s vertical border”, Dialectical Anthropology, 41:1-11.

This article draws on information gathered from the United States Assistant Secretary of International Affairs and Christine Kovic’s field research in Mexico to highlight the violence that Central American migrants face in Mexico. The article states that migrants are subject to kidnapping, especially along the migrant train routes in Mexico. It also states that along with kidnapping, many migrants are victims of extortion, assault, rape, injury, detention, and other forms of abuse. The article argues that US and Mexico policies enforce the violence migrants face in Mexico as they have no protection from risk and danger. The article argues that these policies make migrant bodies vulnerable, and that in highlighting such issues, the authors hope to promote state accountability and remembrance of victims and their stories. The authors of this article are both Professors of Anthropology, which explains why they are focusing on the cross-cultural, and societal aspects and perceptions of migration in relation to Central America, Mexico, the US, and other factors like law and government. The intended audience of this article could be anyone interested in physical violence against Central American migrants, border policies, and even feminist scholars as both of the authors are females and specialize in anthropology and cross-cultural studies. The article is divided into three sections titled “Security within and outside the law: Mexico’s vertical border”, “Structured accidents and the security of violence: dead, dismembered, or disappeared”, and “Resisting the assaults of security: reinscribing life”. The first section draws on the expertise of the United States Assistant Secretary of International Affairs and discusses border policies like “Operation Hold the Line”, increased funds going towards border enforcement, and the Merida Initiative that have pushed migrants to take more dangerous routes to get to Mexico and the US. The ideas in section one transition well into section two, which discusses how on these dangerous routes, migrants are then subject to robbery, kidnapping, dismemberment, and death from physical violence or the physical landscape/methods of migrant transportation (freight trains). The last section discusses how such violence against migrants is often overlooked and unacknowledged by Mexico and that such behavior on behalf of the country promotes a lack of accountability and basic human rights. In structuring the article this way, the authors are able to track the migrant journey from policy to practice/experiences and how such dehumanization needs to be addressed. This article is important as it relates to our ideas about migrant bodies being sites of violence, discrimination, and commodification as policies and state/non-state actors within Mexico physically abuse and economically exploit migrants, all while ignoring their wrong-doings. This article also shows how the same factors that influence Central American migration like the search for economic stability and to flee from violence, are often the same challenges that they face while in Mexico, which will be crucial points to make when discussing the reason why people leave their home countries, but how their struggles still translate to a different country on their journeys.

Linthicum, Kate. “There Is Only One Gun Store in All of Mexico. So Why Is Gun Violence Soaring?” Los Angeles Times, May 24, 2018. Accessed March 11, 2019. https://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-mexico-guns-20180524-story.html.

Reported on the LA Times, this article looks at one of the only gun stores located in Mexico. Through its report, it attempts to understand the paradoxes between Mexico’s strict gun laws and the continued import of weapons from the United States to Latin American.

Malby, Steven. “Characteristics of Armed Violence.” In Global Burden of Armed Violence

2011, 87-112. Vol. 2. 2011. Accessed February 21, 2019.

http://www.genevadeclaration.org/fileadmin/docs/GBAV2/GBAV2011_CH3.pdf.

“Characteristics of Armed Violence”, written by the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development, is part of a larger report entitled the Global Burden of Armed Violence in 2011. This overview is important because armed violence is one of the several reasons which account for the mass migration of Central Americans. In general, this section provide a general overview of armed violence and its correlation towards homicides within developing countries. While the source does not particularly focus on Central America, it can be used as a general guide to understanding the institutional components which perpetuate and motivate armed violence (i.e. legal system, police, etc.)

Furthermore, it offers a few figures which compares firearm-related violence to several countries including Central America. There are three figures in particular which mention firearm violence in relation to a Central American country: Fig 3.9 and Fig 3.12. Fig 3.9 shows the rate of firearm-related homicides in El Salvador in comparison to other countries. While Fig. 3.12 shows how a country’s rule of law potentially correlates with homicide rates. Fig 3.12 features data on Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. What is particularly strong about this source is its ability to generalize the various ways institutions are complicit in perpetuating armed violence.

Manz, Beatriz. Central America (Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua): Patterns of

Human RIghts Violations. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Status Determination and Protection Information (DIPS). Writenet Independent Analysis. August 2008. Accessed February 20, 2019. https://www.refworld.org/pdfid/48ad1eb72.pdf.

This research essay talked about the history of the Central American countries of Guatemala, ElSalvador, and Honduras and the patterns of human rights violations that have occurred. It gives a regional historical background, regional contemporary background, and contextualizes regional gang violence. It delves deeper into each country by talking about the different human rights violations people experience under the hands of death squads, and their experiences with gender-based violence, violence against children, and violence against sexual minorities. This

research is important for our group because it provides a comprehensive historical background of

the region, which will help us give a holistic analysis as to why the Migrant Caravan exists and

explain the circumstances that made people flee their homeland.

Nowak, Matthias. “Small Arms Survey Research Notes: Armed Violence.” Small Arms

Survey. February 2012. Accessed February 21, 2019.

http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/fileadmin/docs/H-Research_Notes/SAS-Research-Note-14.pdf.

Provided by the organization Small Arms Survey, “Femicide: A Global Program” is a report which compares the rate of homicides against women on a global level. It uses data reported by the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development in order to make comparisons between the femicide rates amongst various countries. In particular, we will potentially be referencing Figure 2. “Average femicide rates per 100,000 female population in 25 countries and territories with high and very high rates, 2004-09”. This figure is relevant to our dossier in that it provides the femicide rates of El Salvador and Honduras (countries which comprise the Northern Triangle).

While the data for this figure refers to 2004-2009, the data could still be relevant to our study in two primary ways. First, it could be used to compare how current data on gender violence within Central America compares to earlier data. Second, the article also provides more specific numerical data on Intimate Partner Violence and Firearms for countries such as El Salvador and Brazil.

Romero, Luis G. “Dozens of migrants disappear in Mexico as Central American caravan

pushes northward”, theconversation.com, Nov. 2018, https://theconversation.com/dozens-of-migrants-disappear-in-mexico-as-central-american-caravan-pushes-northward-106287 (accessed February 18, 2019).

This article/post from the online journal The Conversation focuses on the disappearance of Central American migrants, who are a part of the caravana migrante, as they make their journey through Mexico. The article states that Central Americans have been fleeing their home countries ravaged with gangs, corruption, and poverty, only to be met with similar horrors in the country of Mexico on their way to the United States. The article discusses the disappearance of men, women, and children within Mexico, and how such violence is influenced by the current war taking place in Mexico between the country’s armed forces and drug cartels. The article also focuses on the asylum process in Mexico and how Mexico is currently falling short in terms of the assistance and funds they are supposed to use to support Central American refugees in Mexico. The US-Mexico border is also mentioned in regards to the rigid, often cold militarized personnel that greets the migrants as they arrive to the US where they most likely will be denied asylum. The article ends by stating that although Central Americans are facing a tough and violent journey north, they nevertheless endure such hardships in the hopes of a new life for themselves and their families in the US. The author of this article is a Senior Lecturer in Human Rights, Constitutional Rights, and Legal Theory at the University of Wollongong Australia. The article is split up into four different sections that are titled “Mexico’s ambiguous welcome”, “Asylum overload”, “Militarizing the US-Mexico border”, and “No relief at the border”. In sectioning the article this way, the reader is able to understand how international influences are affecting the ways in which people are able to migrate and the difficulties they face when doing so. The author also uses statistics and other quantitative measures to prove his main points such as mentioning the number of immigrants who have experienced violence en route ( which is ⅔) and the percentage of Mexicans from survey polls who want migrants to go back to Central America (which is 33%).The importance of this article is its usefulness in helping to explain why Central Americans are facing human rights violations in Mexico on their journey to the US. This article highlights issues like the drug war in Mexico, perceptions of Central Americans in Mexico, and the military and legal institutions that give little to no support to refugees. This article is important to our research as we are trying to uncover the human rights violations that Central Americans face when migrating through Mexico to the US, and it provides not only evidence of such violations, but also how legal and social institutions are making it easier for such violations to take place. In understanding these concepts through this article, we are able to easier see the connections between law, society, and violence.

“School of the Dictators.” New York Times, September 28, 1996. Accessed March 11, 2019.

“Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) & Migration Fact Sheet.” Kids in Need of

Defense. January 2017. Accessed February 21, 2019.

https://supportkind.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/SGBV-and-Migration-Fact-Sheet.pdf

The “Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) & Migration Fact Sheet” provides numerical data regarding gender violence within the Northern Triangle and its relationship towards migration. This resource is offered through the collaboration of 3 non-governmental organizations: Kids in Need of Defense, the Latin America Working Group, and the Women Refugee Commission.

This fact sheet contains four particular strengths related to our study. First, it focuses on gender violence specifically within the Northern Triangle, which is the main concern of our dossier. Furthermore, the facts sheet was released in January 2017 and could provide recent statistical evidence leading up to the October 2018 Migrant Caravan. Third, it shows numerical data for various intersections of gender-based violence. For instance, it breaks down forms and variations of gender-based violence within gangs, domestic partnerships, etc. Lastly, it shows limited numerical data regarding the LGBTI community, a group which is often silenced or underrepresented in media and scholarship.

Our group will be referencing this numerical data to discuss how systems of gender based violence within Central America influenced mass migrations to North America. In particular, we will use the data to show how there are barely any systems in built in Central America to report instances of gender violence.

Stohl, Rachel, and Doug Tuttle. “The Small Arms Trade in Latin America.” NACLA:

Reporting on the Americas Since 1967. March 6, 2008. Accessed March 11, 2019. https://nacla.org/article/small-arms-trade-latin-america.

Tseng-Putterman, Mark. “A Century of U.S. Intervention Created the Immigration

Crisis.” Medium(blog), June 20, 2018. Accessed February 20, 2019. https://medium.com/s/story/timeline-us-intervention-central-america-a9bea9ebc148.

This is an incredibly interesting article that enumerates the ways in which the US has intervened in Latin America in the past century and argues that the actions of the US played a central role in the immigration crisis we have today. Tseng-Putterman states that since Theodore Roosevelt declared in 1904 the US’s right to exercise an “international police power” in Latin America, it has left a lasting impact on the region that limited its ability to grow. For instance, the US-backed military coups, corporate plundering, and neoliberal policies have drained the region of resources and led to instability, poverty, and violence. This paper is important to us because it provides a comprehensive analysis of how policies like the CAFTA-DR – a free trade agreement between the US and Central American countries led the economy in the region to restructure and become dependent on the United States.

“Where the Guns Go: US Arms and the Crisis of Violence in Mexico.” American Friend

Service Committee. November 2016. Accessed March 11, 2019. https://www.afsc.org/sites/default/files/documents/2016 Where the Guns Go.pdf.

Women on the Run: First-Hand Accounts of Refugees Fleeing El Salvador, Guatemala,

Honduras, and Mexico. October 2015. Accessed February 21, 2019. https://www.unhcr.org/56fc31864.html.

Published by the UN Refugee Agency, “Women on the Run” provides first-hand reports of women feeling from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. While this article may not exclusively focus on the Northern Triangle, it provides first hand accounts from women who are migrating. For instance, within the Executive Summary, it offers a primary account from an El Salvadorian woman fleeing gang violence. This report is particularly strong, not only because it aligns with the subject and focus of our dossier, but it provides several first-hand accounts from women themselves. We will also be using the maps provided within this resource to trace areas of particular violence or concern for women. Finally, we will also be using this article to identify legal and institutional obstacles of obtaining asylum outside of Latin America and in Mexico.

Srikrishnan, Maya. “Everything You Need to Know About the Migrant Caravan, and

Those That Came Before.” Voice of San Diego. October 23, 2018. Accessed February 20, 2019. https://www.voiceofsandiego.org/topics/news/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-migrant-caravan-and-those-that-came-before/.

This news article talks about the Migrant Caravans have existed for the past decade, starting with the caravans of Central American mothers whose children have “disappeared” while make the dangerous trek to the United States. Their caravan was a protest of the injustices that people who try to cross suffer. Next, it talks about why people are leaving Honduras and what will happen to the caravan members who arrive at the US-Mexico border. I think this paper will be useful for us because it gives us more personal stories from the mothers and participants of the caravan, which will help ground our dossier more on the urgency of the problem. As important stats and analysis our, I think it will help our paper be stronger if we add the narratives of those who are on the trail.

Vogt, Wendy (2015) “The War on Drugs is a War on Migrants: Central Americans Navigate the Perilous Journey North,” Landscapes of Violence: Vol. 3 : No. 1, Article 2. DOI: 10.7275/R57P8W9F. Available at: https://scholarworks.umass.edu/lov/vol3/iss1/2

This article draws the focus of human rights violations to the longer trajectory of security initiatives across the Americas.  Giving details about the Plan Colombia, Merida Initiative and the Central American Regional Security Initiative, the authors show how these policies created conditions that worsened the plight of migrants headed to the United States.  It also discusses how migrants, activists and Central American governments have begun to increase pressure on Mexico to reform its outdated and punitive migration policies. The article contributes to the dossier our group is creating as it helps to define and establish some of the external factors that contribute to violence against migrants.

Vogt, Wendy (2016) Stuck in the Middle With You: The Intimate Labours of Mobility and Smuggling along Mexico’s Migrant Route, Geopolitics, 21:2, 366-386, DOI: 10.1080/14650045.2015.1104666

This article discusses the relationships that develop between smuggler and migrant.  It offers a short historical account of how migration has been going on for years between the US, Mexico and Central America, and how the media bolstered fears of an invasion and contamination that are not new, and reflect a longer history of “othering” at the US southern border and also how the US is using the “War on Drugs” to prevent migrants from coming to the US.  Also, it discusses some of the measures that the US is taking to creating more economic stability within the borders of the Northern Triangle to prevent migration. It draws attention to the deeper political and economic process that fuel the highly profitable industry of smuggling, not just in the Americas, but world wide. This article assists our group in giving context to why human rights violation are ignored as the system of human smuggling is part of the economics on the Mexican government.

Vogt, Wendy A. “Ethnography at the Depot: Conducting Fieldwork with Migrants in Transit.” In Where Is the Field? The Experience of Migration Viewed through the Prism of Ethnographic Fieldwork, 66-86. Studia Fennica Ethnologica. Helsinki, Finland: Finnish Literature Society.

This study gives rich details to the amount of Central American migrants who have died in Mexico, at the hands of transnational gangs, Mexican police and military, immigration official, local people and other migrants.  It states that these violation happen with impunity to the perpetrators and that there are multiple mass graves that have been uncovered in Northern Mexico that contain mostly Central Americans. Once again, this article helps to define the violations that the migrants suffer from, and the dangers they face as they travel north.  It helps to defend the position that the institutions within Mexico are not interested in protecting migrants. It also discusses the roles that migrants safe houses play in protecting migrants as they travel north. All of this information helps our group to adequately frame the circumstances, choices for migrating, and process that these migrants face.  It adds context to the way in which the institutions dehumanize and abuse these people.

Willers, Susanne. “Migration and Reproductive Strategies of Central American Women in Transit through Mexico.” Journal of Family Studies 24, no. 1 (2018): 59-75.

This article looks specifically at the experiences of women as they migrate.  Women are in much weaker positions and are more vulnerable to abuse on their journey north.  The women are assigned the roles of caregiver, and men are the ones who migrate more often, historically,  However, this trend is changing. Women also have the added responsibility, and sometimes guilt, of either bringing their children along the journey, or leaving them with family back in the country of origin.  If they choose to bring them, they have the pressure of worrying about their safety and the child’s, and if they leave them at home, they have the pressure of trying to find a job while on the move to send money home to their family taking care of their children.  This article helps to illustrate powerful limitations on migration strategies and mobility of migrant women. These arise from the context of undocumented migration, the criminalization of undocumented status and the the particular gender roles. One of the interviews speaks of a woman who’s son was kidnapped after she was raped by 12 men.  There are no punishments for these crimes. Once again, it goes to document how the Mexican government is not interested in protecting migrants.

About Katrina Manrique

Katrina Manrique is a fourth-year undergraduate at the University of California, Davis. Through her time as a UC Davis student, she has mobilized and advocated for the implementation of inclusive and accessible healthcare and policy. She uses her blog as a platform to discuss the challenges in reforming institutional changes at a university and state level.

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