TIJUANA, Mexico – Some 150 people turned out in the Mexican border city of Tijuana on Sunday to protest the Central American migrant caravan shouting xenophobic slogans and calling for law and order.
Convened via the social networks by the so-called “Citizens movement against the chaos of the migrant caravan,” somewhat over 100 people gathered in Cuauhtemoc traffic circle in Tijuana at the same time that a previously-scheduled demonstration of support for the caravan was cancelled.
The caravan of several thousand migrants set out from Honduras a month ago heading northwards through Guatemala and Mexico with the ultimate goal of crossing the US border.
Waving Mexican flags, the demonstrators climbed onto the monument to the last Aztec ruler Cuauhtemoc shouting “Mexico, Mexico! and “Tijuana, Tijuana!” as well as slogans calling for “defending” the country and the city in the face of the Central American influx.
“Wake up, Mexico. We don’t want problems. Out with the ‘maras’ (Central American groups and/or gangs) – Mexico for the Mexicans,” were some of the slogans chanted by a number of demonstrators.
“The migrants entered (Mexico) by violating Mexican sovereignty and humiliating us. We’re not going to permit them to stay here and enter Mexico and Tijuana as they please. For a better Tijuana we must not allow bussed-in criminals to come here,” said one masked demonstrator wearing a Mexican soccer team’s jersey.
The protester said he was a Tijuana resident, adding that “We’re not against a migrant wanting to get ahead; the only thing we’re calling for is order and respect for the law.”
Another demonstrator said that Tijuana “did what they didn’t do in the rest of Mexico” and applauded the demonstration last week when residents of Playas de Tijuana ran a number of migrants out of that district.
He also accused caravan organizers of manipulation and obtaining resources by mobilizing the migrants.
Yet another demonstrator said that when a number of migrants broke down a border gate and entered Mexico from Guatemala, “they became worthy of repression, but we Mexicans have been tolerant.”
“We already have 6,000 Haitians working in Tijuana, there are already Hondurans and Guatemalans and this isn’t a caravan, it’s an invasion,” he added.
The municipal delegate for Tijuana’s central zone, Pablo Genaro Lopez, said that the protest was conducted in an orderly manner.
“It’s not as many people as we expected. We were worried about a double march and that there might be some kind of clash,” he said, alluding to the originally scheduled pro-migrant march that ultimately did not occur.
At least 3,000 migrants, of the 5,000 or so who set out originally from Honduras, are currently in Tijuana, and after the incidents last week the majority are waiting in a sports stadium to request asylum.
Many of the demonstrators echoed the same sentiments: namely, that they didn’t mind migrants coming to Mexico, but they wanted them to come legally, behave properly, and – above all – to prevent gangmembers and criminals from being among them.
Besides the caravan currently in Tijuana, there are at least two other groups of Central American migrants – mainly Hondurans and Salvadorans – who are now heading northwards through Mexico toward the US border.