SUCHIATE, Mexico – It’s seven o’clock in the morning and a raft stealthily approaches on the Suchiate River, on the Mexican border with Guatemala. Eight people, including two women and a minor, get off the rudimentary boat.
Yessenia Garcia, from Chinandega, tells EFE that she fled her home in Nicaragua because of increased violence and police controls.
“We can’t live because of the Nicaraguan regime, you can’t walk in the street anymore. Everywhere the police appear with eyes that want to kill you,” Yessenia says, accusing the government of Daniel Ortega.
Disoriented, they advance, fearful of being caught.
People go “with fear, risking their lives. And when I crossed that river I felt as if they were chasing me,” the woman said.
Increased immigration controls and the imminent arrival of the Mexican National Guard are frightening Central American migrants hoping to reach the United States, who have started looking for new routes into Mexico amid the fear of deportation.
In the wake of the immigration agreement between Mexico and the US – with the imminent deployment of 6,000 troops of the new Mexican National Guard in the south – fear has grown in the migrants who seek to cross Guatemala and Mexico to reach the US.
Marisol Bonilla also just crossed the river. She is a single mother from Honduras traveling with her five-year-old daughter, who hasn’t asked where they’re going and seems happy with the playground next to the municipal facility where they sleep.
The Honduran woman says that in her country “there are many protests, strikes, you can’t get any documents; if someone is doing their own business they ask for protection money, the ‘mareros’ (youth gangs) ask for protection money, then one migrates here.”
Although she has heard that Mexico is dangerous, and recent messages by US President Donald Trump only worsen the situation, she cares little, saying “here it is not more dangerous than in my country.”
She adds that every day the park in the border town Suchiate is crowded, and that the constant immigration operations keep them in fear of being deported.
Some migrants have taken very dangerous routes such as the border near Comalapa or Palenque (in the state of Chiapas) in an attempt to avoid all military deployments and reach the US, according to human rights organizations.
At the same time, dozens of migrants line up under the sun to meet the requirements of the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance to obtain a visitor’s card for humanitarian reasons.
The president of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, announced on Tuesday the creation of a “special commission” to deal with the migration phenomenon in the south and comply with the agreement signed with the US to avoid the “unfair unilateral measure” of tariffs Trump had threatened.
The team is made up of officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Welfare, and Labor and Social Security.
General Vicente Antonio Hernandez Sanchez, commander of the XXXVI Military Zone in Tapachula, Chiapas, who flew to that city to expedite the deployment of the National Guard, also forms part of this commission.
Interior Secretary Olga Sanchez Cordero said that the National Guard won’t be like the US Border Patrol on the southern border, and will only provide support to regulate the migratory flow, not stop it.
But the strong presence of military and Navy personnel has aroused many suspicions.
In addition, deportations of migrants by the National Institute of Migration continue, and on Tuesday Mexican authorities announced they had returned 108 Hondurans, most of them “families with children,” by plane.
The increased publicity of immigration controls, combined with the recent detention of two activists accused of smuggling migrants and the freezing of their bank accounts, appears to get noted in the United States.
On Tuesday, Trump wrote on Twitter: “Sad when you think about it, but Mexico right now is doing more for the United States at the Border now than the Democrats in Congress!”
But he also announced, as he did the day before, that the “biggest part of deal with Mexico has not yet been revealed!”