Rising violence and instability in the Northern Triangle of Central America – Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador – is forcing hundreds of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers to cross Mexico on their quest to reach the United States. Powerful criminal gangs control the route, and migrants are at high risk of kidnapping, extortion, rape and death. What’s more, state agents are often complicit in or indifferent to these kinds of situations.
Since 2010, Pueblos Sin Fronteras, a group of Human Rights activists and volunteers, has been organising the so-called ‘Caravana Migrante’ where mostly Central American migrants travel from Guatemala across Mexico to the US border. The organisation aims to bring attention to the array of hardships and dangers Central American migrants and asylum seekers crossing Mexico have to face, and endeavours to provide a safe space for them – especially women and families – as they make the journey.
In 2018, the ‘Caravan’ helped a record 1500 undocumented Central American migrants, mainly families fleeing political instability after the controversial elections in Honduras. The large number of participants prompted President Trump to tweet about it, creating a political and media storm between both countries. The Mexican Government tried to dissolve the Caravan by giving the participants temporary visas in Mexico. They were permitted to travel around the country and, after 20 days, either leave or request a permanent Refugee Visa.
Nonetheless, many of the Caravan’s participants continued with their plans to reach the US, and a group of a few hundred continued travelling together towards the border on board a train known as The Beast.