Hundreds of women, men, children, youth and the elderly decided to leave Honduras on October 12 as a desperate response to survive, the Honduras Solidarity Network of North America writes.
The huge exodus that began in the city of San Pedro Sula reached more than 3000 people by the time the group crossed to Guatemala. The caravan, which is headed north to Mexico then aims to reach the United States, is the only alternative these people have to regain a bit of the dignity that has been taken from them.
They are not alone in their journey. Various waves of Hondurans, whose numbers grow hourly, are being contained by Honduran security forces on their border with El Salvador and Guatemala.
The Honduras Solidarity Network in North America condemns any threats and acts of repression against the refugee caravan, human rights activists and journalists that accompany their journey. The conditions of violence, marginalisation and exploitation in which this refugee crisis find its origins have been created, maintained and reproduced by US-backed social, economic and military interventionist policies, with the support of its Canadian and regional allies.
We call on people in the US to reject the criminalisation, prosecution, detention, deportation and family separation that threaten the members of this march and the lives of all those refugees forced from their homes in the same way. We urge a change of US policy in Honduras, and to cut off security aid to stop human rights abuses and government violence against Hondurans.
This refugee crisis has been exacerbated by the governments of Guatemala and Mexico, who, subservient to Donald Trump’s administration, have chosen the path of repression. Bartolo Fuentes, a Honduran journalist and spokesperson for the refugees, has been detained in Guatemala.
Meanwhile, the Mexican government has sent two planeloads of its National Police to the border with Guatemala. Irineo Mujica, a migrant rights activist and photojournalist, was arrested in Chiapas by agents of the Mexican National Institute of Migration when he was getting ready to support the Honduran migrant march.
On October 19, tear gas was fired into the group as they tried to come into Mexico on the border bridge. Honduran human rights organisations report that a seven-month-old baby was killed.
The huge forced flight of people from Honduras is not new; it is the legacy of US intervention in the country. Since the 2009 US-backed coup in Honduras [against an elected left-leaning government], the post-coup regime has perpetuated a system based on disregard for human rights, impunity, corruption, repression and the influence of organised crime groups in the government and in the economic power elite.
Since the coup, we have seen the destruction of public education and health services through privatisation. The imposition of mining, hydro-electric mega-projects and the concentration of land in agro-industry has plunged 66% of the Honduran population into poverty and extreme poverty.
In the past nine years, we have witnessed how the murder of Berta Cáceres and many other activists, indigenous leaders, lawyers, journalists, LGBTI community members and students has triggered a humanitarian crisis. This crisis is reflected in the internal displacement and the unprecedented exodus of the Honduran people that has caught the public’s eye during recent days.
The fraudulent elections last November, in which Juan Orlando Hernández — president since questionable elections in 2013 — was re-elected for a second term in violation of the Honduran constitution, sparked a national outrage. The people’s outrage was confronted by an extremely violent government campaign with military and US-trained security forces to suppress the protests against the fraud.
The result of the repression was more than 30 people killed by government forces, more than 1000 arrested and currently 20 political prisoners being held in pre-trial prison.
To the repression, intimidation and criminalisation faced by the members of the refugee caravan, we respond with a call for solidarity from all the corners of the world.
In the face of the violence that has led to the mass exodus of hundreds of thousands of Hondurans, we demand an end to US military and security aid to Orlando’s regime, not as the blackmail tool used by Trump, but as a way to guarantee the protection of the human rights of the Honduran people.
We demand justice for Berta Cáceres, for all the victims of political violence as a consequence of the post coup regime, and the approval of the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act H.R. 1299. We demand freedom for all the political prisoners in Honduras.
We demand the US end the criminalisation, imprisonment, separation, deportation and killing of migrants and refugees.
Today we fight so that every step, from Honduras to the north of the Americas, is dignified and free.
[Reprinted from Alliance for Global Justice.]