CIUDAD IXTEPEC, Mexico – Honduran native Douglas Javier Lopez Flores left home with the goal of pursuing the American Dream, but when that door closed, he managed to forge a successful life for himself as a barber in southern Mexico.
“They always talk about the American Dream. They never talk about the Mexican dream and those things, right, or the Spanish dream, or the European dream … What I can tell you is that, thanks to all the Mexicans who have supported me, I now (have stability),” Lopez said in an interview with EFE.
The 42-year-old Honduran has honed his craft over a period of 28 years in Honduras, Guatemala, the United States and now Mexico, where he has opened two barber shops and now is thinking about a third.
On Wednesday, the Mexican government said migrant crossings from Mexico to the US have fallen by 74.5 percent from May 2019 to the present.
But while many migrants now face a more daunting task in trying to relocate to the US and successfully seek asylum there, Lopez’s daily focus is on the business he has successfully run for the past five years in downtown Ciudad Ixtepec, a city in the southern state of Oaxaca.
That town is on the route of La Bestia, the freight train that many Central American men, women and children use in making their perilous northward journey through Mexico.
Lopez named his hair salon “El Catracho Barber Shop” as a homage to his native Honduras, while a wall at his establishment is painted with the interwoven flags of Honduras and Mexico as a means of expressing his thanks to those Mexicans who helped him on his journey to the US.
He learned the trade of barber in Honduras, perfected it in the United States and now continues his work in Ciudad Ixtepec, where his services include haircuts, eyebrow and moustache trimming and intricate haircut designs.
But he said there were obstacles to overcome in forging a profitable business and winning the trust of his Mexican customers.
“It’s hasn’t been easy at all for me to make this work … As someone from Honduras, there’s a lot of discrimination. You see there are a lot of people who come from there and do bad things, and then everyone suffers because of that,” he said. “I try to be a normal person, just like in my country, an upstanding citizen.”
Like many other migrants, Lopez once hitched a ride on La Bestia and was deported from the US. But now he is a legal resident in Mexico and has been putting down roots in Ciudad Ixtepec.
El Catracho Barber Shop is a family business that also provides employment to Lopez’s wife, Jenny Hernandez, and their younger son, while the income they earn allows Lopez to send money home to Honduras and provide a more dignified life for his father.
They also try to preserve ties to their home region by extending a hand to Central American migrants who arrive in Ciudad Ixtepec seeking a respite on their journey north, even if it’s just to offer a free haircut.
“We’re all here as a family, with our children, with our grandchildren, and we’re working together. We also provide an opportunity for our Honduran brothers and sisters, and for Central Americans who leave their country with a dream, with the goal of helping their families,” Hernandez said, noting that sadly some of these migrants “die along the way.”