Solidarity: The reason why Central American migrants stopped their journey

 

Wilson, a 25-year-old Honduran, had recently started his journey towards the United States. On the night of September 7, Wilson was staying in a shelter for migrants in Ixtepec in southern Mexico. Ten minutes before midnight the earth started to shake so hard, fell out of his bed. “It seemed like the end of the world”, he recalls.

The 8.2 magnitude quake in Mexico was recorded as the strongest in the country’s history. Another Honduran immigrant, Joel, who was trying to cross irregularly into the United States, was flabbergasted by the sound of the earth moving, by seeing buildings crumble down and witnessing a person fainting in the middle of the street.

When the earth stopped moving, Joel, Wilson and other migrants were staying at the shelter. They started talking to  other people who had just arrived at the shelter and they had  bad news: the situation was critical. Hundreds of people were injured and remained under the collapsed buildings and the rubble. The group of migrants had the idea to stay and help out and shared it with Ernesto, one of the shelter’s coordinators. The next morning, they started assisting people.

Wilson, a member of the brigade.

“Migrants were the first to help”, that’s what the Mexican people of the affected communities from Ixtepec said. This brigade of approximately 30 people engaged in debris removal using their bare hands. They were digging through the debris of collapsed buildings to recover people’s belongings or to rescue the injured people they found. We only had two shovels that we found at the shelter, so we were taking turns to use these rescue tools. When one person was using a shovel, everyone else was using their hands”, explained Wilson. A woman noticed the men trying to help and immediately offered to lend them her tools in exchange for some help to clean her house, which had also been affected by the disaster.  

On September 19 Mexico was struck by a second earthquake. Wilson and most of the members of the improvised brigade were still helping to repair the damage caused by the first quake in Oaxaca two weeks earlier. Their hands were covered in blisters and wounds but with their simple tools they proceeded to help in those areas, that were hit the hardest.

“Migrants are abused and mistreated by some people. Unlike what most of those people  think, we are good people” - Joel.

Solidarity was the reason why every single member of this group of migrants postponed their trip. In their hearts and their minds, they were not thinking about anything other than staying and helping the Mexican people. According to Joel, a lot of people couldn’t believe that migrants were helping, but through their actions they showed that many negative stereotypes towards migrants are false. “They were amazed by the fact that we were migrants and that we were helping them, because we got to some affected areas that not even the Mexicans could get to.”

Most of the members of this brigade were forced to flee from Central America. They were in search of a better life and working conditions to help their families back home. Joel decided to take this journey to help his child, and because he was being threatened by organized crime. 

“The gangs in Honduras gave me 24 hours to leave the country. I had to go because if a gang member gives you 24 hours to leave, after 25 hours you’re dead.” - Joel.

Currently, Wilson and Joel are looking for a temporary job in Mexico to continue helping their families in their home countries. When it comes to assisting people, they won’t hesitate to do so.

 

Joel, another member of the brigade.  

 

 

 About the author:

Jean Pierre Mora Casasola is a Communications Specialist at IOM Regional Office for Central America, North America and the Caribbean. He has served as a consultant in different social organizations and in the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). He holds a Degree in Advertising from the University “Latinoamericana de Ciencia y Tecnología” (ULACIT), and he is currently getting a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations at the same university.  Twitter: @jeanpierremora 

 


Multilateral cooperation, a key for migration governance

Categoria: Migration Governance
Autor: Guest Contributor

Migratory movements in Central and North America have been determined by diverse political, economic, environmental, social and cultural factors. Due to their complexity, migration processes at national and regional levels reveal a great number of challenges, so cooperation and dialogue between countries and agencies is essential to address them properly.

Inter-state consultation mechanisms on migration (ISCM) are forums run by States in which information is exchanged and policy dialogues are held for States interested in promoting cooperation in the field of migration. These mechanisms can be regional (regional consultative processes on migration or RPCs), interregional (interregional forums on migration or IRFs) or global (global processes on migration).

There are 15 Regional Consultative Processes on migration active in the world, but few as consolidated and with as much experience as the Regional Conference on Migration (RCM), created in 1996.

The RCM is a regional consultative process on migration to exchange experiences and good practices in ​​migration at a technical-political level. The coordination of policies and actions is carried out by its eleven member states: Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, the United States, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic.

Created at the first Tuxtla Summit, the RCM is governed by the following objectives:

• Promote the exchange of information, experiences and best practices.

• Encourage cooperation and regional efforts in migration matters.

• Strengthen the integrity of immigration laws, borders and security.

This poses a great challenge, since it involves the balance of security issues at each country’s level as well as at a regional level, the search for national prosperity and economic improvement, and the rights of migrants in accordance with international agreements and conventions.

 "The issue of migration has many challenges, and among them is public opinion. Sometimes the issue of immigration is not so popular, if it is not addressed in an appropriate manner. There is a lot of misinformation about migration issues, and countries’ efforts are not always recognized," said Luis Alonso Serrano, coordinator of RCM’s Technical Secretariat.

The RCM works with three different liaison networks: the fight against trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling, consular protection, and the protection of migrant children and adolescents. This year, the RCM is going through a re-launch process, led by Guatemala as Presidency Pro-Tempore, to innovate and be at the forefront in meeting regional objectives. The RCM is a dynamic process and evolution is one of its main characteristics.

Among its achievements is the establishment of different assistance projects for the return of vulnerable migrants, training workshops and seminars on migration issues, and technical and institutional assistance to the migration authorities of RCM’s member states.

The RCM has also published a comparative analysis of the legislation of Member States on trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling, which is periodically updated, as well as a series of guidelines and manuals for migration governance.

However, of all its achievements, the most important achievement of the RCM is teamwork: the commitment of continuous dialogue between countries characterized by different economic, socio-cultural and migratory realities. This regional consultation process provides a space for equal representation and participation to government delegates, facilitating the identification of matters of common interest, as well as needs, objectives and areas of action.

The efforts of the RCM are complemented by the work of other regional entities interested in migration governance, such as the Central American Integration System (SICA). Currently, SICA and IOM are developing a study on the causes and consequences of migration in the region, to develop a regional action plan to address the phenomenon.

As Serrano explains: "The immigration issue does not belong to a single country on its own. Through the exchange of experiences and good practices, a dialogue between peers is created to share challenges. You not only learn from the good, but also from the opportunities for improvement, in order to strengthen migration governance and ultimately reach the target population: the migrant population, whom we owe our work to. "

For more information about the RCM and access to documents and publications, visit: http://portal.crmsv.org/