On January 15, the most recent of the so-called “caravans,” exodus or long marches to the United States that aimed to reach their destination as part of the inauguration of the Joseph Biden government, began its journey. About a thousand Hondurans started their journey and entered Guatemalan territory.
However, the caravan was violently blocked by the country’s security forces, for reasons of irregular migration and hygiene. Although some managed to reach their destination, most of the caravan members had to return to their countries of origin.
After this last episode, on March 1, Presidents Joseph Biden and Andrés Manuel López Obrador held a virtual meeting. After discussing bilateral issues, such as the evolution of the T-MEC or the management of the pandemic in the border region, the leaders raised the delicate issue of mixed migratory flows in recent years, in particular from Honduran territory.
The caravans are a veritable exodus of entire families, unaccompanied children and adolescents, the unemployed, environmental refugees, LGBT people, people with disabilities and migrants from other countries of the continent and the world.
The origin of the caravans
The Central American caravans or the mass exodus to the United States became more visible from October 2018. The first caravan, called anonymously on social networks, left the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula and has then increased with migrants from other countries of Central America, the Caribbean and other nationalities.
The caravan emerged as an innovative migration strategy that sought, through collective action, a certain protection and security for its members during the long march through the Guatemalan and Mexican territories towards an uncertain “American dream”.
From the perspective of sending countries, caravans have been – and continue to be – caused by structural causes such as social injustices, exclusion, unemployment and underemployment, violence, patriarchy. and crime. Also due to cyclical causes such as the socio-economic and health effects caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and extreme weather phenomena such as hurricanes Eta and Iota which devastated the countries of Central America in November 2020.
Links between excessive corruption and emigration
In the case of Honduras – the main source of caravans or exodus – we must add the institutional collapse and the serious deterioration of the quality of democracy engendered by numerous cases of corruption, capture of the state apparatus and even transnational illegal acts committed by government officials, President Juan Orlando Hernández.
Indeed, there is a link between excessive corruption and the mass emigration of Hondurans. Recently, a report from the National Anti-Corruption Council of Honduras stated that “corruption causes migration among Hondurans over time, mainly losing access to public services which have been reduced and even stolen from the population.”
In addition, the lack of jobs causes people to “position themselves in relation to other nations, whose standard of living and quality of life are high and achievable, even when they migrate irregularly and under high conditions. risk”.
Coincidences between Biden and AMLO
In this context of macro-regional migration and humanitarian crises, the at least rhetorical convergence between Biden and AMLO is good news. According to the joint statement issued at the end of this presidential meeting, the parties proposed “to discuss cooperation mechanisms on migration and to advance joint efforts to promote development in southern Mexico and the northern triangle. of Central America “.
The declaration also recognizes the contributions of migrants to different countries of origin, transit and destination, and representatives are said to have pledged to “ promote migration policies that recognize the dignity of migrants, as well as the imperative of orderly, safe and regular migration. “.
The representatives also agreed to “collaborate in a joint effort to tackle the root causes of regional migration, improve management and develop legal channels for migration”.
In such a bilateral and multilateral effort, the governments of the two countries, as well as their Central American counterparts, as well as civil society and business actors, could promote economic development, fight corruption and cooperate in the field. law enforcement.
From the point of view of defending the national interests of the two countries, as well as humanitarian considerations, this advance of the Biden and AMLO governments could be supported by other social, political, economic, environmental and academic actors with links and interests. in the theme.
The formulation and implementation of public policies that promote social and environmental development and improve the quality of democracy in southern Mexico and Central America are truly urgent, necessary and relevant.
The search for new horizons
People, families or communities only decide to leave their country and undertake a risky, dangerous and uncertain journey when they come to the sad conclusion that they will not be able to realize their plans and dreams in their own country. . It becomes a powerful incentive to seek new horizons abroad.
And if migration – especially refuge – is an alternative and even a right, the massive exodus of human resources certainly ends up being a virtual hemorrhage of the workforce to the countries of origin. In addition to being a political-administrative, labor and social challenge for transit and destination countries.
There is an opportunity to relaunch a more effective, constructive and united politico-diplomatic and social dialogue between the United States, Mexico and Central America. The tripartite dialogue in the Puebla process, known as the Regional Conference on Migration, was largely abandoned under the administration of Donald Trump.
The reactivation of this consultation and coordination mechanism could certainly help defuse the current humanitarian crisis represented by the caravans of the past three years. Only reformist, comprehensive and fraternal public policies can definitively solve the problem.
Spanish translation by Maria Isabel Santos Lima
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