Category Archives: Caravanista interviews

Interviews with Central Americans who came to Tijuana with the November 2018 caravan

Harold Duarte

December 15, 2018

El Berretal

[This sign was in front of El Barretal the day before I interviewed Harold. He asked that I not use his photo. Since he has this security concern, I also changed his name to Harold Duarte. This is not his real name.]

I am from Honduras, from the city of Choluteca. I have four children. I’m married. I don’t have my family with me. With the system there, I could not help my family. We heard about the caravan and four friends came to my house. We concluded that that there was an opportunity to come to the United States. In our region there is no work, everything is scarce, there is no security in our country. With our government, the political situation, it is not possible to work. There is unemployment. I have a comrade who wanted to study. I don’t have the capacity to study. If I could, I would take out my family. Looking forward, it’s fifty percent toward life, fifty percent toward death. They kidnap us, they kill us. A brother went away and has still has not come back to our country. So I want to get my family out. If you go with the caravan, you won’t get kidnapped. We will get shelter. Thank God I arrived in Mexico and I wasn’t kidnapped. They didn’t attack my family. Thanks be to God that here in Mexico nobody did anything to us.

             I talked with my wife and she agreed that I should try. We had a little business where we made about a thousand lempira [about $41 USD] a month, but when you count what we had to pay in taxes, for the lights, about five hundred pesos for light, for water, we didn’t have a system of living with which we could survive. My wife was supportive. I would have a future in the United States. My daughter agreed with me. In Honduras it was very dangerous. She is in the first grade but in a dangerous area.

            I had 1,500 lempira for my trip, for which I got a thousand pesos. I was on the road for thirty days, walking with the caravan, sleeping in parks. We rested in Veracruz. Thank God in Veracruz we received some help and we could move forward.

            I don’t like it here in the shelter because we always have our hand out. You’re a migrant from another country and you don’t have anything to do with me. But look here. This shelter has a roof. There is something to eat, and a roof. We were sleeping on the streets, walking, walking. It’s not possible to walk all the way from Guatemala without some help. They gave us tortillas, stale bread. I as a Honduran am grateful to the Americans.

            I don’t know if I am going to ask for asylum in the United States, because I have never been to the United States of North America. This is the first time I traveled since I did my military service, but if they give me an opportunity, I will bring my family forward.

            [I pointed out that the law allowed asylum for political reasons. Did he fear political persecution?] When I was there I said things about the government, about our president there, and I talked to a friend about and he told me to be careful. I am afraid they listened to me, the political parties. Therefore I can’t go back to my country. We have always had the poor, but all these benefits we give to the government, and the people never got anything from them. If they did what they should there would not be poor people.

            I only finished primary education. It’s difficult to go to school in my country.

            My sister is already on the other side, but she does not have her residence card. She has only immigrant status. She doesn’t yet have a work permit. If I can’t go forward, I may work here in Mexico.

            Thank you for the interview. I am grateful that an American came to listen to us.

Antonia Rodriquez

(Partner Jorge Avisai Perdomo Marques)

December 15, 2018

El Barretal

I asked God if this was his plan that he was opening a window for me to take my children and my companion, so that we could leave Honduras. The situation there is so difficult. There is no work. I asked that God would send us a miracle. We are people who come from Honduras. We come from Santa Barbara, and we are asking Him for this. So that when we cross to the United States and we have our interview, and we will show Señor Donald Trump that there are many good people here who want to work, who will suffer anything for our children. In our country there is no work. How are we going to feed our children if there is no work? This is why we want to immigrate. So when I learned that this caravan was coming up here, I said to myself, oh my God, where is this caravan? I ran a lot so that we could join up with them.

            And here we are. And I will show the person who interviews us that I moved heaven and earth.

            I am forty-eight years old. The twins are thirteen. The final one is ten years old. The father of my children is thirty-five. [He was present for the interview, signed a consent, but did not speak.]

            Life in Honduras is very hard. This is how it has been. We suffer, sleep in streets. We slept one night here, another night there, with our children. So I am asking God that he will grant us this favor, that we touch the heart of this president. We are good people. He will see that we are not bad people. I have my entry number. In two weeks I will enter. We are waiting positively.

            My companion and I both have four years of education. We did construction work,building houses. I can build a house. I also worked in restaurants.

            I heard some good things about the caravan and some bad things. But mostly good. We first heard about it on the radio. Then we started to investigate it. And we thought God was making a miracle in giving us a way to move forward. We walked a lot. And here we found a ride. We met up with the caravan while it was still in Honduras. It took us a month and seventeen days to get here. My experience here has been very sad. They should make a movie about this, a very great story. It would be a book, the story.

            [At this point the twins showed up, and she introduced me. The daughter brought her a tamale with sauce. She could not eat it.] It’s very spicy. [The daughter protests that it’s not spicy. She tells me] they took out my teeth here in the shelter. [She shows me the vacant front of her lower jaw.]

            The danger that we face in Honduras it that my daughter would be violated. [She hugs her daughter.] Some guy that we don’t know. There were two guys who were trying that in Honduras.

            If I am able to settle in the United States, what I would like to do is take an airplane to Tegucigalpa, get my two older children and bring them to the United States. When applied I cross, they wanted to treat just the four of us as a family, me and my three children. But he is the father of the children. How can he not be part of the family? They are afraid of him. They say that he is not going to cross. Why shouldn’t he cross if he is the father of my children? I told them that we are a family of five people: me, him, and my three children.We don’t leave the children. This is the law of the caravan. They are recorded as his children, with his surname and everything. We five are a family.

Oscar Geovany Deleid

September 15, 2018

El Barretal

I am from the city of Ceiba. A am forty-one years old and have had no schooling. I did all kinds of work: construction, painting, We decided to join the caravan because the situation in Honduras is hard. The main reason is there is no work. We heard that everybody would be with the caravan at the frontier. If we gave it a try, it would be good. We walked. We took rides when we could. We went from city to city. We stayed in parks. The trip was hard, bad. But we always had food and water. We thought about turning back,but we kept saying, keep on, we’ll make it. Keep on, we’ll make it. Like that.

            Then when we got here to the border, there’s another challenge. We couldn’t cross.Supposedly there’s a number that you can get in order to cross so that they can give us asylum in the United States. Because some of us are afraid the gangs of Honduras, from the laws, from all this that is going on some of us really need asylum. Really I need asylum. But others in reality don’t need asylum in reality. I am running from death.

            I worked as a fisherman, I was a mason, I learned a lot of different work—painting, how to build a house, using heavy equipment. I learned to work, if there were someone in Honduras who could give me work. So if I could find a place where I could paint, lay block. I really need this, but there are others who are just taking this opportunity to get something better.

            I have family in Honduras, my mother, my siblings, my daughters. I haven’t been with my wife for eight years. My family supported my going. Really they’re still in danger from this hit man. He goes from neighbor to neighbor shoveling out what he can..

            My brother went to Mexicali, asking for asylum. He’s in Chicago now, but his case isn’t decided yet. So when I heard about the caravan, I had to go and ask for asylum to get away from this man. Supposedly the government of Honduras put him in jail for thirty-five years, but after five years he was free, which is very little time. He got out like he never killed anyone, like he just killed some fleas. So my mother said, just go on. We need to go and ask for asylum because we are threatened by this person. The government doesn’t do anything because the government only looks out for itself. If the law worked like it should,this guy would have to serve his full thirty-five years that the law judged for him. What can we do? We can go from one side of the country to the other.Honduras is small. We don’t have the money to move from one city to another.Why do we need money? Because my mother has a little house in Ceiba, and we don’t have the money to buy another house. We just have money to buy tortillas.

            And for this we are grateful to Mexico and to Guatemala because they gave us food and shelter. I walked about a thousand kilometers. We walked until eight at night.Some people gave us money. I left Honduras with about five hundred lempiras and for this they gave me about 250 pesos, so our money is worthless. We lived on pancakes (tortitas) and tortillas. Tortillas and pancakes. We were walking. For people who ride in a car, they need much less. [I saw that he was wearing flip flops.] I don’t have shoes. But we are here, thank God, and thank the people who helped us. And we hope that some day we will see our number, and they will give us asylum in the United States.

            If they let me cross, if Señor Donald Trump gives me asylum, my dream is to work and to bring out my mother and my younger brother and my nephew from there and let them go to another city without the threats they experience there, to help them move to another place.A lot of people in Honduras leave the towns for the cities, but if they can come to the United States, there is a lot of work that they can do in construction, painting, in a factory.

            My mother is an older woman and I would like to get her out of that danger, then maybe here in Mexico. I don’t want to stay in Mexico because it’s so cold. [I mentioned that not all of Mexico is as cold as Tijuana in December. But they say that Señor Donald Trump won’t let us in. But my family is trapped. There is no work and there are the gangs. This is the reality.

Quenedi Dario Valladares Figuro

December 15, 2018

El Barretal

I am from the city in Honduras called Tambor, Marcovia, Choluteca in the south of Honduras. I worked cane and I harvested fruit for export to the United States. I worked in the fields. I am thirty-four years old. I was not able to go to school. Another friend told me he was going to join the caravan and I decided to go with him. We all decided to come to get abetter life. We don’t have any money. My situation has been like this for along time. Nineteen of us decided together to come.

            I don’t have a wife or children. No father, only my mother. I have two siblings. I didn’t have time to talk with them before I left, so they don’t know where I am. My mother doesn’t know either. I can make a three-minute call and I will tell my brother. He can tell her.

            We heard about the caravan on the television. Some of us heard this and we started talking about it with each other, and we decided we would come here. The caravan was still in Honduras when we joined it. The trip was walking and then a ride.Walking then a ride. We’d ride on a truck or a bus, and then walk. In total,the trip took us twenty-two days. We would walk all day, for fifty kilometers,a hundred kilometers. The people in Mexico helped us: they gave us food and water. They were good to us. There were also many Americans. I saw them along the way. They came along with us. They had cars. They brought food. The trip was fairly good. Nothing happened, thank God.

            I have been here in the shelters for a month, this one and the other, Benito Juarez [Sports Center]. Here I am just waiting. I have a number to cross, but I don’t know how many people are able to cross each day because of the numbers. [He showed me the certificate with his number. It is an official looking document with his picture printed on it.] When my number is called, I will go there and ask them to help me. I will ask them for asylum or for permission to work or something. I talked a little bit with someone about asylum, so that we can be safe over there, but I don’t know what will happen to me.

            [I tell him that asylum is for those who are afraid of going back, who would be in danger if they went back. I ask him if he feels this danger.] Yes, I am in danger with a person in Honduras. I can’t tell you about it, just that it has to do with this one person. It is a private matter with a person there.

            If I get to the United States, I hope to work. I worked on ranches, and with horses. I can work on horse ranches. In the United States the horses are in stables. I can do everything in a stable.

            I don’t want to stay in Mexico because it’s the same [as Honduras]. There’s no money and there’s a lot of danger here as well. There are many here who will pick fights, who are selfish. I don’t like the people. If I can’t cross, I think I will go back [to Honduras. But I’m not going to make it here. [I tell him there is assembly work in factories here, but he is not interested.]

The November 25 demonstration

ON THE MASSIVE DEMONSTRATION WITH THE INTENT TO CROSS

Sunday, November 25 at 10 in the morning, about 300 migrant men, women, boys, and girls left the Benito Juarez Sports Center with the objective of performing a peaceful demonstration at the Chaparral Border Crossing, seeking to sensitize the government of the United States about their situation, as well as to request that it streamline the reception process for those petitioning for asylum. Upon entering the intersection of Avenida Alberto Aldrete and Avenida Revolucion, in the zona norte, the migrants encountered tens of members of the corps of gendarmes of the Federal Police, who closed the passage for them before they could get on the bridge that connects with this Border Crossing, the most traveled in the crossing from San Diego to Tijuana.

For about 40 minutes, the migrants stood there in the street, shouting slogans and reiterating that they were meeting in a peaceful demonstration. Several asked the grenadiers to let them pass. They called attention to the large number of reporters as well as personnel from the National Commission for Human Rights (CNDH). Furthermore, at least two military helicopters of the United States and two helicopters of the [U.S.] Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) circled very close to the protest, located a few short meters from the border fence.

When it appeared that the demonstration was about to disburse, several migrants began to run through the surrounding streets to the bridge custodied by the grenadiers. Far from containing them or exercising physical violence on them, the police went to one side and began to run with difficulty to where the migrants were headed, who began to cross International Avenue en masse. In order to keep anyone from being run over, personnel of the Municipal Police of Tijuana saw themselves obligated to stop vehicular traffic.For several minutes, men, women, boys, girls, babies, and carriages crossed this street en route to the zone known as El Bordo, in the canalization of the Tijuana River, many with the idea that, upon crossing the canal, they were in the United States. Thus were heard cries of, “we did it,” and “yes, we could.”At the same time, in the Benito Juarez Sports Center, the rumor spread that they had opened the gateway of the United States to let them pass. The helicopters of the military and the CBP continued to observe the scene from the sky.

Upon getting past El Bordo and noticing that they had not arrived in the United States, the migrants continued running, but now disbursed and in several directions. Several went toward the Chaparral Border Crossing, where personnel from the Federal Police immediately closed the Mexican border, while agents of the CBP did the same with the United States border. The traffic going toward the border crossing was paralyzed, and the lines of cars were detoured toward the Otay crossing, provoking the congestion of traffic and the anger of the drivers and the ambulant vendors, who came to attack the migrants with sticks until they ran away from there.

Tens more migrants tried to get out and cross the fence that separated the two nations, but they were repelled by agents of the Border Patrol, who launched sonic and tear gas bombs. Among the migrants were several babies, boys, and girls under five years of age, who were the most vulnerable victims of the poison produced by the gas. In this manner, the United States used force to make the Central American migrants remain in Mexico.

Some migrants ran toward the train routes, also located scarce meters from the border, in the area below the Libertad neighborhood.There several tried to cross the wall, and it is known from the Border Patrol report that at least 42 migrants were detained for these deeds.

About 2 in the afternoon, the migrants began to walk back to the Benito Juarez Sports Center, some of them with symptoms of poisoning,and several more visibly angry because of the treatment given on the part of the immigration authorities of the United States.

The press kept the event in the news for several days and the desperate images were visible throughout the entire world. President Trump endorsed the use of force on the part of the Border Patrol agents, who from his point of view saw themselves assaulted by the people trying to cross. Meanwhile, the Mexican government, sent a diplomatic note to the United States government, asking that they investigate thoroughly the events in which tens of migrants were repelled with gas. In the local region, Governor Francisco Vega de la Madrid and Mayor Juan Manuel Gastélum made energetic pronouncements condemning the act of the migrant population,while demanding the intervention of the federal government in terms of financing and specialized personnel for the hosted population in the Sports Center. For its part, the commercial sector, both recreational and medical tourism of San Ysidro and Tijuana, has lamented in various communications the economic losses derived from this deed and, in general, the presence of the Migrant Caravan in the city.

It is significant that, after the deeds of November 25, a greater number of the members of the caravan began to take advantage of the program of return, as well as to enlist in the employment fair in order to seek work in the city.

From “La Caravana de Migrantes Centroamericanos en Tijuana 2018, Diagnóstico y Propuestas de Acción,” produced by the faculty of El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, December 4, 2018.  My translation.

Erick Samael (sic) Ramos Santos

I am twenty-three years old, from Lange Valle. I have a primary education and was working as a blacksmith.

            In Honduras, the military and legal authorities are allied with the gangs. They wanted to take me and my family. I was shot in the side but thank God it was not bad. [He shows me a scar on his left side, over his ribs.] The Lord brought me here to save my life. I was considering suicide but I think God gave me another chance for life. I had three brushes with death so I wasn’t going to miss this chance to get away.

            I have seen many things along the way that I don’t like. In the caravan I saw a woman with her children looking for a better life. How can they travel like this?

            My father is still in Honduras. He is sick with diabetes. My country receives medical aid from Europe, but then they sell it. My mother died under treatment. She was at home and had so many injections that they had to take her to the hospital. It was a torture for her.

            I was so happy to be on Mexican soil. May God grant me the opportunity to enter legally into the United States. I want to bring my family because of the violence. I fear for them.

            My brother is on the other side, in Washington. When I get there, I want to work to secure my life and that of my siblings and my father. Then maybe I can get married and start my own family.

            My friend told me about asking for asylum. He said the law was very hard.

Mario Ronaldo Lagos Ramos/

I am twenty-nine years old. I worked in Tegucigalpa as a taxi driver. The gangs asked me to pay their extortion, and began persecuting me. I used to start at four in the morning. One morning I went to buy tortillas for my breakfast and while I was gone they shot my friend. If I had not gone for tortillas, they would have gotten me. I went to the police and they asked me for the phone number of the man who killed my friend. If I gave up the murderer, I would have put my own life and the lives of my family in danger.

            I had already left Honduras, on the Mexico/Guatemala border, when I heard about the caravan. Only my sister came with me. My wife and son are still in Honduras.The trip was a hard one, but here we are. I both rode and walked. I felt ill along the way. From here I hope to go to the United States. I never thought about being here [before my friend was killed].

            I hope to go legally into the United States and ask for asylum. I have a woman friend over there who is an American resident. She may be able to help. I am due to cross at the end of December. The first thing I want to do after I cross is bring my family, then help my parents. We’re good people running away from bad people. They can investigate us and that’s what they’ll find.

            With the current president, the gangs got stronger, but this problem has been going on for a long time.

Rosa Gil, Vilma, and Hector

December 4, 2018

El Barretal

Vilma Jesus Iraeta, wife

Rosa Gil Mendoza Maldonado, husband

Hector Yovany Mendoza Iraeta, son

Vilma—Life was difficult for us. We were threatened, both the man and the son. We, the parents, had to intervene. They were pressuring Hector to join the group of extortionists.

            We’re from the city of El Progreso, Yoro. I’m 43, Rosa Gil is 35 and Hector is 19. On October16, we heard the news of the caravan and we knew we had to leave.

            I did domestic work. It was the only type of work available to me. Rosa Gil worked construction. An immigrant friend returned and had money to build a casita. If you have a high level of training you can be in charge of building a house.Without education, you have no chance. We eat only beans and maize.

Rosa Gil—I also cultivate maize and rice. But now I have no place to farm. Agrarian reform was supposed to give us all land, but the big farmers got everything. The campesinos are told what to raise, and then the big farmers set the price at which they can sell it, so we earn nothing. The campesinos used to have co-operatives, but the big farmers broke these. My father was in a co-operative. He always kept his farm. He grew African palms [oil palms], cacao, coffee. After the reforms, there is no place to farm. That’s why I went into construction. I can lay block, run electricity, plumbing, put in roofs, do metal construction of all sorts. But I can only do this when migrants return with money to build.

            We decided to leave because they wanted to put my son in the drug gangs. We thought we’d be better off in the caravan. Going alone is very dangerous. I wanted to defend my son against greater danger. They tried to stop me from leaving, but I came forward and defended my family. [He holds out his arm akimbo in front of his chest.]

            We’d walk for six or seven hours a day. Then we’d sleep and try to find the point of the caravan again. Along the way we found people to help us, people who organized support, brought us food, water, medicine, clothes for the women and children.In Guatemala, people helped us readily. [The word here is bastante, meaning in this context either readily or sufficiently.] In Mexico less so. Overall, the trip was bad. The caravan was infiltrated by thieves. We were robbed, assaulted.

            I was in trouble because of my political group. I was active with a group on the left. We were harassed both by the military and the police when we protested. I wonder if the government didn’t send groups to destabilize the caravan.

            When we tried to cross from Guatemala into Mexico, some people went directly into the river and crossed. The infiltrators did that. The people in the caravan are good people, not like the infiltrators.

            We slept on the dirt with the sun and the rain. Thank God we were finally provided with tents. In Mexico City we received a great deal of humanitarian aid, as we did in all of Mexico. We got food, water, medicine. They checked my feet. [He showed me scars on both feet where they had broken open.]

            I was amazed at how many children were walking. We came only with our youngest son.We have three more still there. We also have three grandchildren. Our children are worried about us.

            We had to abandon our house. I told my neighbor across the street about it. In our area there were lots of gunshots at night. You don’t ask the police for help. If you go to the police, twenty-four hours later, someone will come for you.

            We don’t want to go back. Our plan is to wait until our number comes up and to ask for asylum. I talked to an immigration lawyer who came into the camp.

Vilma—He asked for land to cultivate. The rich have grabbed up all the land. After he asked, the police came at six in the morning and took him for twenty-four hours. I thought they were going to kill him. The land he asked for should have been part of the agrarian reform. Through the program, he had a right to this land, but he was denied it.

Rosa Gil—Politically, I was active in the Partido Libre. The government harassed us after the election. Partido Libre was part of an alliance of the parties on the left, like here in Mexico, but here the left won. We have more than eleven political parties in Honduras. The government infiltrated the political campaigns. They photographed us so that after the election they could persecute us. The media is all controlled by the government.

            Even before the election, they killed the activists, reporters, and lawyers on the left. This happened both before and after the election. They took pictures of the leaders so they could kill them. This is part of the overall violence in the country. There is no security anywhere in Honduras. The government is so oppressive. You can’t go outside.

            All the public services were privatized. If you go to the public hospital, they give you a prescription. Then you have to go to the private pharmacy that is owned by the doctors. This is how they make their money. Electricity is very expensive. We have solar, [geo]thermal, hydro, gas. They manipulate them to make it expensive. Honduras has lots of rivers. They could build dams and then provide electricity to everyone for free. When we protested against the privatization, many activists were killed.

            My dream if I can make it to the United States is to get some land. I am enchanted by nature. I hope to work very hard and to have respect to all the laws. I want to send my children to school.

Nelson David Rubi


I joined the caravan because of the political situation. The president is a dictator. If you don’t help the president and the gangs, you get killed. Unless you cooperate with them, you’re against the government, and you’re at risk. When word of the caravan first spread, fifteen days before they actually left, a friend suggested that I go with them to help protect them. I am on the medical staff of the hospital in San Pedro Sula [where the idea of an organized migrant caravan was first announced]. I was already targeted by the military police and the praetorian guard of the president, so this looked like a good opportunity for me to leave.

            It took me seventeen days to get to Tijuana, walking, on a train or by bus.

            The previous president was Porfirio Lobo Sosa. He was a dictator too.

            I came on my own. I have a wife and one son. The situation in Honduras is lamentable. I have to abandoned my country because it’s broken. I hope I can bring my wife and son here.

            I’m thirty-two years old, from San Pedro Sula. I have a licentiate in nursing and am a paramedic as well.

            As a medic, the trip was hard on me. I saw five people die, mostly from falls from trucks.

            I’m optimistic about being here. There are better options here. Trump has insulted me and I don’t want to go there. I plan to stay in Mexico. I am already in contact with people in the Mexican government, as well as writers from the United States.

            It’s been a week since I’ve talked with my wife. She supports my move and is hoping for a better life. The experience has been fascinating, but I had no second choice.

            I think we would have been better off if Hillary had been elected. Or if Barack Obama were still president.

            The health situation here [in El Barretal] is better [than in the Benito Juarez Stadium, the original shelter for the migrants]. We had a lot of respiratory disease because of the change in temperature. It’s been cold here, and there it’s warm all year around.

            [I told him that some people said that climate change had a part in the crisis in Honduras.]

            I haven’t heard anything about this. It was unusually hot last year.

Arturo Puido Garcia

Arturo Puido Garcia

 

December 4, 2018

At Colegio de la Frontera Norte

 

I’m a documentary film maker. I came to Tijuana because I never expected to see anything like this in my life. All these people came here with nothing. I too am a migrant. I’m from Tijuana but I now live in Los Angeles.

I got into the middle of the caravan to talk with people. Who are they? Why did they come here? I found a lot of fear, a lot of confusion. Something is different over there [in Honduras]. The people in the caravan don’t want anything for themselves. They come for their kids. They might bring four kids and leave four more behind.

The country is pervaded with gang violence, targeting the youth. The gangs are trying to recruit the youth.

The Benito Juarez facility where they were staying was locked up when I got there. I had to sneak in. I didn’t bring any camera with me, I just used my journalistic skills to blend in and get through the gate.

I was shocked. Don’t believe what you’ve heard about them. I wanted to help, to record what they have to say. I saw a lot of confusion in the whole community. Probably some people are pulling the strings.

I found three or four families who told me that the previous night two or three trucks filled with guys with guns came by and told them, you have to leave now. They were wearing face masks. They had no police or military IDs but they looked like cops. During the day, a very large Mexicano, tough guy looking, tried to provoke the migrants into a fight. I’ve seen on social media gangster looking guys trying to recruit other Tijuanesas to drive them out.

I talked to the woman in the photo that was in all the newspapers. [Woman with her children in the Tijuana River basin fleeing tear gas.] She never expected anything like that. She thought her little girl was going to die. While running away, her daughter lost her shoes in the mud of the river bed. With the shock blasts, her daughter was stunned, traumatized. She still won’t go out of her tent. Her mother tries to coax her out into the sunshine, but she’s afraid.

I was at the river on November 25. There were a couple of hundred people there. I saw signs in the camp the night before saying we’re going to cross at five o’clock tomorrow morning. People assembled for breakfast early in the morning. With three thousand people lining up for breakfast, of course there wasn’t enough food. They were waiting around until six, seven, eight, nine, ten. Finally at ten thirty they began to move. They were carrying signs, saying “We don’t hate Trump.” Some were praying. They were happy, thinking that they were going to get in today.

There was not any planned route. They said “We just want to pass peacefully.” They were blocked at the wall. They crossed the Via Rapida [the southbound highway just after passing through Mexican customs, and went over to the main border crossing into the US. Standing there were hundreds of thugs with bricks, rocks, sticks, and clubs, threatening the migrants. They were right alongside the police, including municipal, state and federal police. The police and the thugs were in the same campaign. The migrants saw they couldn’t pass this way so they broke up, looking for a way to cross. They went into the neighborhood, into Colonia Libertad. From there, they found the rail crossing. I didn’t see any migrants throwing anything, but by this time they were angry. On the US side were both Border Patrol agents and military. They used tear gas and rubber bullets. The crowd had been peaceful but wanted to cross. The confrontation at the rail crossing lasted about ten to twenty minutes. I talked to people who where hit by the rubber bullets.

Another group went to the river. They didn’t cross the pedestrian bridge, which was blocked. They just came across the highway. Some hundreds tried to cross there. That confrontation was ten to twenty minutes also.

There have been postings in social media to try to turn the people of Tijuana against the migrants. One was this woman who said the migrants rejected the food they were given because they don’t eat beans. “How can that bitch say that?’ they were asking. We produce beans. We live on beans.

Zona Norte, where the original camp—Benito Juarez Stadium—was located, is dangerous. Moving the migrants to El Barretal was strategic. It’s quite distant—hard to get to the border from there. The idea was to isolate them. But the migrants as a whole are grateful for all that Mexico has done for them. A lot of them will stay in Mexico. Many feel angry, not knowing what’s going on. Nobody’s telling them their rights.

Most of my Tijuana friends now hate the Hondurans. There is a lot of bad information out there on social media.