Chiapas: Day 1 of the Caravan to the South

The Caravan to the South crossing the border to Guatemala @ SIPAZ

On 14 September, the committee of the Caravan to the South, in its sixth day of travel reached the center of Tapachula, where it was received by social organizations.  Subsequently the Caravan moved to the frontier municipality of Suchiate, where it held a meeting with Catholic authorities and representatives of indigenous organizations.

For reasons of security, the agenda for Tecun Uman, Guatemala, was cancelled, this because the poet Javier Sicilia, who leads the movement, brings with him a team of armed guards who are under orders not to allow him to be alone for even a moment, particularly in a region of high risk, as that city is.  Regardless, at the frontier bridge of Ciudad Hidalgo, Chiapas, he asked for forgiveness from the Central American immigrants for all the abuses committed against them in Mexican territory.  Furthermore he noted that Mexicans are laden with “shame and indignation regarding the lamentable acts of murderous gangs colluding with agents of the National Institute on Migrantion.”  He accused the INM, dependent of the Secretary of Governance, of being an institution “[that is the] fruit of cynicism and complicity with organized crime, an example of impunity and corruption.”  “Peace also is the freedom to cross borders” was the cry heard at the activities in the order zone.

Social organizations such as the Emiliano zapata Campesino Organization (OCEZ), the National Union of Autonomous Regional Campesino Organizations (UNORCA), and the Ecological Indigenous Federation of Chiapas (FIECH), among others, read a joint communique that says that “we do not understand how in this Southern Border [zone], it is easier to move commodities than human beings.  This cannot be explained without a profound investigation of the presumed relationship between the operative institutions and criminal gangs.”  The OCEZ, UNORCA, Totikes, Campesino Front of Chiapas, and the Campesino Union of the South, among others, stressed that the incapacity of the government to guarantee dignified treatment of immigrants is evident.

Member of the Caravan to the South in Ciudad Hidalgo @ SIPAZ

Several testimonies were had during the day.  The Honduran teacher Danira Meléndez told of how she was sexually assaulted by the pollero who was to take her to the United Stated; she had to put up with hjumiliation, hunger, and fear, until she succeeded in escaping.  She walked without water or food for 15 hours until she was rescued by a team that works with Father Solalinde (Oaxaca) where she has now been working for six months, committed to the migrants and helping their journey through these violent lands to be less difficult.

Similar stories are told by Willie, a Honduran migrant who became a member of the caravan when it departed to the north; here in the South he tells, now without fear, about how the police, the INM agents, and organized crime detain migrants because they represent easy money, “when there are checkpoints all the police participate and they do not send us to our countries.  They stop us to engage in extortion, to give us to the polleros.  For that reason I would like that there not have to be visas to cross through Mexico; hopefully we could cross in bus and not in train, because the train is where they kill us or disappear us.”

After listening to the testimonies, Sicilia said to the migrants: “We have come to tell you, our brothers of the South and Central Americans, that you please pardon us for not having raised our voices previously.  For not having arrested death and kidnapping.  We want to tell you that it ashames us that you begin in Mexico not with dreams but with a calvary.”

Returning to Ciudad Hidalgo, they met once again at a bandstand, where more stories were told, and one minute of silence was had, with another of applause for women, men, and families of migrants.

In relation to this problem, the advisor of the Commission of Attention to Migrants in Chiapas, Mauricio Mendoza Castañeda, revealed that in 2011 his orgnizations has rescued 88 victims of kidnapping in 14 municipalities of the state upon dismembering 30 criminal gangs.  He stressed that for these crimes have been detained two delegates from the INM, from Cacahoatán and Ciudad HIdalgo, as well as five officials from the civil courts.

For more information (in Spanish):

Caravana de la Paz Día 6: La paz es también la libertad de cruzar fronteras,, 15 September 2011

Sicilia pide perdón a migrantes centroamericanos por agravios en México, Proceso, 14 September 2011

Caravana de la Paz Día 6: La paz es también la libertad de cruzar fronteras, Cencos, 15 September 2011

Continúa Caravana por la Paz gira por Chiapas, Milenio, 15 September 2011

Caravana lleva la paz a Guatemala,, 15 September 2011

Perdón a Migrantes Centroamericanos: Sicilia, El Orbe, 14 September 2011

Chiapas Sigue Siendo un Pueblo Pobre: ONGs,  El Orbe, 14 September 2011


Caravana al Sur – Día 6 – Tecún Uman, Indymedia, 15 September 2011

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca receives Caravan to the South (23 September 2011)

Chiapas: Annunciation of the Caravan to the South in Chiapas (23 September 2011)

Guerrero – briefs: organizations will welcome the Caravan to the South of the Movement for Peace (22 September)

Mexico: March “Steps for Peace” (19 August)

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