At the beginning of the twenty first century Human Security (HS) is a challenge for nations. Taking the perspective from HS, integrity and individual safety for individuals which is the main focus for states as the United States and Mexico. They are confronting Central American caravans, who want to enter into their countries. The challenge is to consider the protection of Central Americans’ human security and at the same time to defend their borders. This essay analyzes how United States and Mexico’s public security policies deal with these caravans which are considered a menace and a priority in an internal manner. It will be analyzed whether both countries consider human security as a way to treat them or whether they are violating this right.
This essay has the purpose of exposing how the security conditions from Central Americans on their way to the United States were treated when they got through the Mexican territory.
The methodology for knowing how human security for migrants were guaranteed in the Mexican territory traveling from Central America to the United States, is to interview them when they were transitioning through the state of Puebla. Seventeen interviews were made with those who wanted to talk about their experiences during their way from their countries until that moment. These interviews were kept long and deep in order to create confidence and willingness, so they could tell their stories.
In the interviews their names were changed. It is just mentioned if they were female or male and their country. These interviews allowed; to learn and compare the different reasons they had for being in the caravan, identify the menaces they faced during their travel and determine what they expected in arriving to the Mexican American border.
Human Security theory is used in this essay for understanding the security problem which was confronted by the Mexican and American governments in receiving these migrants by taking measures to protect their borders.
Human Security (HS) is considered to be the protection and safety of people from menaces which could arise from diseases to wars or any kind of treat, making them to migrate from one place to another. Also, HS is the assumption that individuals have the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” because they represent the state’s basic unit for acting (Hampson et al., 2002).
Human Security is considered basic for the National Security of any nation, because if people are the basic unit for protecting states from any menace then to treat persons is to treat the state. If HS is based upon Human Rights (HR) which is the condition to feel protected and safe then HS, is the product for respecting HR for any person in any condition (Ramcharan, 2002).
The dilemma is about how to protect people’s HS and at the same time the integrity of the state in not letting them to get in illegally. States consider migration as a treat and at the same time they are forced to guarantee HS for people. In this dilemma the Mexican government and the American government try to protect themselves from illegal migration but are also forced to guarantee the safety for people. In this study, the interviews show how migrants’ right for HS were treated during their journey through Mexico and identify the menaces they received from authorities and criminal organizations.
US President Trump stated that “States” have the right to choose the kind of people they want to have in their country, those who are going to prosper and flourish, that’s why he considered illegal migrants as a menace and not as a blessing for covering those jobs which were obtained.
Donald Trump´s Migration Security
President Donald Trump mentioned during his campaign that migration system in the government was broken and has to be fixed and promised to do that if he would be the president. He pointed out: “We agree on the importance of ending the illegal flow of drugs, cash, guns, and people across our border, and to put the cartels out of business.” (Dove, 2016 / Baker y Cochrane, 2019)
His platform for reaching the presidency was to fix this problem which was not forgotten by him during his first two years as president. For him the priority was to protect his country from illegal migrants, drugs, illicit traffic of guns and other activities and merchandises coming from south, for that reason to protect the southern border with Mexico was going to be a priority in his presidency. He considered that many presidents in the past did not want to arrange this problem and just wanted to patch it with public policies as “dreamers”, “visas for work”, “border patrol” and other minor actions. (Nixon & Santos 2017)
From his point of view illegal migration was a menace for the country because migrants stole jobs from people. Also, he considered there has not been a leadership in Washington who wanted to fix it and he was going to. At the same time, he mentioned the system was broken because everybody (institutions, enterprises and many others) was taking advantage of this issue. (Dove, 2016)
“President Trump has talked frequently about “bad hombres” streaming in from Mexico. But it is the flow of money going from north to south — a product of Americans’ voracious appetite for illicit drugs — that officials say is an equal part of the problem.” (Nixon & Santos 2017)
Trump saw a broken system on the migration issue, and he started to menace the Mexican government by saying he would build a wall on the border between the two countries and would be paid by Mexico. He considered this action as a way to protect and defend his country from all kind of illegal flows. He wanted to guarantee his citizens that he would be dealing with this issue during his presidency.
“We will build a great wall along the southern border. […] And Mexico will pay for the wall.” (Dove, 2016)
Besides this declaration he was invited by Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto, during his candidacy, with the objective to shorten the distance by his posture on migration and commerce. There was a fear about these issues if he could get to the presidency.
Peña Nieto’s invitation was criticized, and it did not help to improve the relations because once in power Donald Trump continued to menace the Mexican government in many occasions and reiterating the building of the wall on the border and closing the NAFTA agreement. (Anderson, 2017 / British Broadcasting Corporation News Mundo [BBC News Mundo], 2016)
Donald Trump’s speech denouncing migrants as a menace for the country’s security was based on the idea that they enter as illegals and stole American jobs helped him to secure the presidency. But this discourse was for a certain electoral person who accepted and considered migrants as a menace to their security so they trusted during his campaign. (British Broadcasting Corporation News Mundo [BBC News Mundo], 2016)
“Then there is the issue of security. Countless innocent American lives have been stolen because our politicians have failed in their duty to secure our borders and enforce our laws like they have to be enforced.” (Dove,2016)
The first action from Donald Trump as president was to detain migrants and to ordain detentions just if people could look like illegal migrants. It was not a measure obeyed by many states. After that, he started to separate families; children were taken away from their parents, there were arrests and deportations in different states which the president announced as “zero tolerance”. Although many politicians and experts on the issue stated this was a human violation right, but the practice continued. (British Broadcasting Corporation News Mundo [BBC News Mundo], 2018 / Olmo, 2018 / Lissardy, 2018 / Bachega, 2018)
Almost 2,000 minors were separated from their families in 2018 according to American authorities. The UN commissioner for Human Rights declared it was a cruel policy and would be consequences for the Trump administration. There was a visit from congressmen to Texas to a detention center where migrants and their children were taken. (Dart, 2018 / Shugerman, 2018) The conditions migrants were kept in, terrified congressmen. Congressmen considered the situation as inhuman treatment. Migrants call the center “la perrera” which means kennel. This measure was criticized by many people besides the congressmen and it is claimed that this action was not fixing the problem as promised by the president. (British Broadcasting Corporation News Mundo [BBC News Mundo], 2018 / Olmo, 2018 / Lissardy, 2018 / Bachega, 2018)
“The installation of Texas is known as Úrsula, although immigrants call it “La Perrera”, in reference to the cages installed there and which, in addition to adult immigrants, are now used to house children separated from their parents after attempting to cross illegally border.” (British Broadcasting Corporation News Mundo [BBC News Mundo], 2018 / El Universal, 2018 / The Guardian, 2018)
Instead of making a progress with the migration policy and fixing the “system” the president announced there would be a shout down in the government due to the negative attitude by Congress for not financing the building of the wall between Mexico and the United States. Congress argued the project was not going to solve the migration issue, instead it would make Mexican government get mad with this action and could affect other areas of cooperation and relation they had.
Donald Trump announced a shot down due to the humanitarian crisis that is allegedly going on at the border with Mexico, and with that, about eight million dollars will be used to build the wall and hold back undocumented immigrants and illicit drugs. (Esquivel, 2019 / Portella, 2019 / Ocaño, 2019) The president Donald Trump declared a shot down to finance his promised wall on the border with Mexico without the approval of Congress, a step that Democrats denounce as a violation of the Constitution. (Ocaño, 2019)
In seeing that these actions were not helping him gain voters in different states which had illegal migrants -as many started to protect them by refusing to arrest and deport them- President Trump tried other actions which was to cut budget for those states stating that they should obey federal laws and his orders. But courts in states started to say this action was illegal and could not proceed because states had a certain amount of independence from federal government .
Democrats have regained control of the House of Representatives, a momentous win in the midterm elections that will enable the party to block much of Donald Trump’s agenda and bombard the president with investigations. (The Guardian, 2018)
Democrats opposed Donald Trump’s migration policies as they believed these actions were, just not right, violating human rights and not fixing the problem. So, Democrats would not approve budged for the wall on the border.
The Caravan from Central America
Facing this political environment, the Central American migrants started to organize themselves for traveling to the United States in a huge group crossing the Mexican territory. One of the reasons for the caravan approach according to the interviews made with migrants in Puebla city was the violence and insecurity this travel would present for a single person; in which he/she could face Central American gangs, Mexican drug cartels and even authorities who takes advantage of their undocumented status. They considered traveling in a caravan to be more secure in facing all possible threats on their way to the United States. ( British Broadcasting Corporation News Mundo [BBC News Mundo], 2018 / WOLA, 2018)
“For two weeks, throngs of people have trudged north, crossing first from Honduras into Guatemala and then on to Mexico, bound for the United States border. They have spent nights in sprawling makeshift camps or in churches and schools, washing their clothes in rivers and relying on donations from locals.” (Correal, A. & Specia, M., 2018)
While Central Americans have long fled their homelands for the US and have sometimes joined forces along the way, the organized nature of this caravan is relatively new. (British Broadcasting Corporation News Mundo [BBC News Mundo], 2018)
Migrants are often kidnapped by traffickers and drug gangs which force them to work for them. A large group such as this one is harder to target and therefore offers more protection. (British Broadcasting Corporation News Mundo [BBC News Mundo], 2018)
In fact, when the caravan was in the state of Veracruz, the association “Pueblo sin Fronteras” and the organization of “Caravana de migrantes” warned the immigrants about the risk of the zone. They told them that “It was vital in this stretch of the crossing, to remain united, as they were reminded that Veracruz is known worldwide for being a drug trafficking land, organized crime and clandestine graves, which is why you had to be very alert”. (Zavaleta, 2018)
Another explanation for why and how they organized in a caravan to cross the Mexican territory was the call from persons who belonged to a nonprofit organization: “Pueblo sin Fronteras”, who considered the best way to let know governments from Central America, Mexico and the United States that frontiers should be pull down and take consideration of human rights as poverty, menace to their integrity, hunger and other problems caused by them. So, the best way to solve this problem from their point of view was to let them to cross borders without restrictions for getting what they cannot in their countries. The Government Secretary from Mexico, Olga Sánchez Cordero, identified the international association Pueblo sin Fronteras as the one who organized the migrants’ caravans from Central America for crossing the Mexican territory to reach the US border. (Esquivel, 2019)
In an interview with the coordinator Garibo, she affirmed: Central American caravan had the right to be created by her organization, with free will in wishing to live in a secure place and to get develop. From her point of view, they should not be seen from president Trump’s point of view as a menace. (Garibo, 2018)
This call was made by cell phones (wats ups and facebook) in Honduras and was spread to Guatemala when migrants arrived, they considered it was an opportunity for improving their social and economic live without risking their lives traveling alone as other have already did it. (Ahmed, Rogers, Ernst,2018/Sieff,Partlow 2018)
The caravan left San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on Oct. 12, assembled through a grass-roots social media campaign that began in early October. The campaign drew the attention of a Honduran news outlet, which focused on the organizers’ criticism of the Honduran president, and then spread to other outlets. (Correal, A. & Specia, M., 2018 /Carrasco, 2018)
In the end, migrants organized themselves and started to travel from CA to Mexico. On the 12th of October 2018 the caravan arrived at the Mexican border with Guatemala. They were stopped by Mexican authorities; the border was reinforced by Mexican police officers. The commissioner from the National Institute of Migration (INM) declared: “those who have visa will be accepted the rest would be detained in the INM facilities to start procedures in accordance to every person for asylum”. (Henriquez, 2018)
To prevent the arrival of the caravan, president Trump pushed Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico to stop the immigrants. But it was not so easy because of the number of people who came. (Ahmed, A. & Dickerson, C. 2018)
On the 19th of October people from the caravan got desperate and started to fight against the Mexican police officers who resisted without harming them just using shields. They were yelling: “we are not leaving until we cross”. Young people in trying to cross the bridge jumped to the river, they were starving, desperate and heated. (British Broadcasting Corporation News Mundo [BBC News Mundo], 2018 / Camhaji, 2018)
Migrants were able to cross the bridge next day and entered into the Mexican territory by pushing the gates and forcing the authorities to retreat from that point. Once they entered, they split in many groups because they marched at different rhythms. On the 26th of October the president Peña Nieto launched a program for Central Americans to stay in Mexico which was called: “you are at your home” offering a “temporary identification” for making legal procedures, but he mentioned they should stay in Chiapas and Oaxaca, two states at the south east of the country and far away from the border with the United States. (Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores, 2018/ Reséndiz, 2018/ Nieto, 2018)
This measure was as a response to the pressures from Donald Trump’s demand to stop the caravan before arriving to the south border of his country. But the Mexican president wanted to present this measure as part of his strategy to stop Central Americans which were just looking for a better life and should not be taken as criminals.
Peña Nieto said: “Dear migrants: Mexico wants to protect and support you. The only way we can do is if you legalize your staying in the country and obey our laws. I invite you to approach as soon as possible to the migration authorities which are for helping you.” (Excelsior, 2018 / Tourliere, 2018)
We can see a double action by the Mexican government: first the pressure from the United States for not letting them to cross the border; and seeing they could not avoid the crossing of migrants into the Mexican territory because it could have been a blood bath and the international pressure could have criticized that action based on human rights violation.
This public policy form Mexican government had a double purpose: one was to show the American government that Mexican government was making all it is possible to stop the caravan from getting to the border. Second, was to take care of the migrants by demonstrating Mexican government policy was in accordance with human rights.
But the caravan continued to travel by the country, suffering from hunger, heat, accidents and many other threats. In their way to the Mexican American border passing through many Mexican cities, migrants got to Puebla city where they were interviewed for this research.
Testimonies by Migrants
Migrants arrived at the state of Puebla and they reached the father Gerardo’s shelter church for staying before continuing their way to the border. That shelter was used to receive migrants more than a decade ago, so it was not strange that they get there.
The interviews could be made there because it was a quiet and secure place and migrants could be trusted to tell the truth about their travel until reaching that state. Also, they could be trusted because it was a church and because they were catholic believing god protected them from anything.
In that way they felt relaxed for talking without any menace from any authority. Another reason was that they were talking with students who were helping them to rest and feel comfortable while they were interviewed.
From the seventeen interviews thirteen were men and four women, twelve were from Honduras and five from Guatemala there were Salvadorians, but they did not want to talk. For getting to an interview with them the approach was made when they were eating or resting in the shelter, once they were condident enough to talk about their experiences, they were asked if they would accept to be interviewed, some rejected others accepted.
Poverty and insecurity was stated as the main reason for leaving their countries during the seventeen interviews. They declared insecurity in the travel was due to accidents in the Mexican territory, all of them wanted to get to the United States and stay there, just a few of them wanted to remain in Mexico if they could not cross the border but not to return to their countries.
Insecurity in Honduras and El Salvador had been mentioned by many authors as a problem in the region because there is a heritage from the guerrilla warfare during the eighties and also due to the existence of two gangs (Mara Salvatrucha and Neighborhood 18) which started to exist in the 80’s and became a menace for people.
So, insecurity in these countries grew all this time and people could not continue to survive this environment at the beginning of this century because these gangs have not been fought with efficiency by governments. The experiences from migrants in the caravan were that they had to pay for having their businesses, to be careful about displacing from their homes to any place in the city because they could be robbed, kidnaped, killed or even being violated.
One of the interviewee said: “I had to pay for my business every week so I could work but they (gangs) started to menace my family and my costumers and then I realized I could not afford any longer, that’s why I choose to travel in the caravan.” (Karina, personal interview, Nov 05, 2018)
Another mentioned: “I preferred to travel with the caravan because alone I could have been kidnaped, killed or even capture by authorities in my way into Mexican territory.” (Jorge, personal interview, Nov 05, 2018)
Just four of the them related the fact that gangs in CA and Mexico could agree to kidnap people when they coordinated with one another, they do not know how they do that and what for but they kidnaped women, men and young people. So, traveling in the caravan was a way to avoid this menace in their crossing by Mexico.
The cartels in Mexico and the gangs in CA have been in touch in the last years for several reasons: for trafficking drugs from South America to the United States, for sending central Americans to Mexico because they need “mules” to cross drugs to the American border and also because they need labor and prostitutes in the Mexican organizations.
As we can see the fears of migrants about these menaces was not invented or was just an idea, it was real, and they lived with it in their country.
So, the caravan was a way to protect themselves from these menaces because they have already known about kidnappings in the past or deaths when they resisted collaborating with one cartel than other. Women were the major attraction for them, and they were avoiding being killed, rape or kidnaped.
When they referred to this menace in the interviews they said: “they (criminal organizations) are outside waiting….and in any moment they can appear in any place during the travel.”(Miguel, personal interview, Nov 05, 2018)
Poverty and underdevelopment in their country was another major factor which made them to travel with the caravan. Always in the interviews, their poor condition was mentioned as one reason to leave their country and even was as strong as violence.
One of the interviewees pointed out: “I prefer to travel with the caravan than to see my family dying of hunger, the only thing I want is to have a job that’s why I want to get to the United States.”(Carmen, personal interview, Nov 05, 2018)
Many of them related they did not have a chance in their country because they couldn’t find a job that was enough for living, prices were very high and at the same time many families were more than three persons. For them the only desire was to have a job and to get out from poverty and hunger
If we see the economy from these countries, it has not been well in the last decade. There are many reasons for that: corruption, no public programs for development, violence and dependence from remittances. So, migrants were the result of these problems and also the result for not paying attention to them by international community.
So, poverty was another major reason for them to leave their country, their family and all possibility to go back in the long future. Migration as many authors say is the displacement of people from one place to another and also to cut ties with their roots in many senses as costumes, roots and family ties.
Central Americans were doing the same as Europeans in the eighteenth and nineteenth century when they arrived at the United States. There are many differences between them and the central Americans, but one thing can be said to be the same: hunger and poverty. Many Americans stated that their family did not have anything in arriving to the country and they had to improve their lives.
Migrants stated that there have been a lot of accidents in highways trucks and shelters during their travels across Mexico because people did not take precautions. One of the interviewee said: “there was a boy standing up on a wagon and fall sleep and then fall down from the wagon and a truck run over him killing him at once.”(Arturo, personal interview, Nov 05, 2018) Another mentioned: “a boy turn out his head from a car and then another smashed his head killing him.”(Silvia, personal interview, Nov 05, 2018)For others the more horrible was that the little children have seen a lot of accidents and deaths during their journey.
We can say these accidents were the cost of migration like when they get sick, injured or even die. So, authority was not preventing them from having accidents crossing Mexico even the surveillance from them, because as many of them refer there were many young people deciding and improving actions without precautions.
Until their journey to Puebla City they pointed out they were tired and did not want to continue without resting well. One cause for accidents was many decided to travel at the pace of the younger and stronger. “I’m hungry and I have not sleep well during all these days I thing I will be able to do it here (in Puebla) before continuing my journey to the United States.”(Amanda, personal interview, Nov 05, 2018)
Finally, the last question was, what they expected from their travel across Mexico and facing all these dangers and menaces. Fourteen from the seventeen pointed out they wanted to get to the border with the United States and do everything in their own hands for crossing the border. They constantly declared they were not criminals or even a menace to Americans they were just looking for jobs and get out from poverty.
All the stated that they wanted to arrive to the border between Mexico and the United States but did not have an idea what they could found as a risk to cross it. They knew about the attitude from president Donald Trump not just for building a wall between his country and Mexico but also his xenophobia to migrants from CA and Mexico because he considered they steal American jobs, were criminals and stayed in the country in an illegal way making roots for next generations.
“I do not know what to do if I do not cross the border; I do not know anybody here in Mexico.”(Juan, personal interview, Nov 05, 2018)
“I have to cross the border at any cost if not it did not worth anything to make the trip.”(Ignacio, personal interview, Nov 05, 2018)
“My relatives told me I had to hire a coyote to cross the border and on the other side they will pick me up.”(Gabriel, personal interview, Nov 05, 2018)
As we can see from migrants’ declarations in the caravan there was not other choice for them than to cross the border ignoring the menaces and the possible aggression from authorities on both sides of the border, because the American government was getting ready for protecting their side of the border and Mexico was going to show its help.
Also, they feared not just to have more accidents but to be attacked by authorities or criminal organizations. Just three interviewers mentioned they knew from others who tried to cross the border that they could face criminal organizations or authorities who could take advantage from their condition.
One of the examples from cartel’s menace was the example with the migrants killed in San Fernando where police officers detained them and gave them to the Z cartel for killing. So, as criminal organizations were in touch with mexican authorities they were afraid to confront this scenario as a big menace for their integrity and obstacle to cross the border.
Four of the interviewees said that they were avoiding to cross certain states in the Mexican territory as Veracruz, Tamaulipas or Michoacán because they knew cartels control those parts of the country and they could be kidnaped for being mules to carry drugs or killed as San Fernando massacre.
“Walking in this way we avoid to get into some states in the country, we know there is a strong presence from cartels in those regions.”(Mauricio, personal interview, Nov 05, 2018)
“We are protected in this way (referring to travel in the caravan) from authority and drug cartels which are outside and are seeing us all the time since we leave our country.”(Alberto, personal interview, Nov 05, 2018)
“Girls are looked after when traveling in the caravan, many have to take pills for not getting pregnant during their travel, that’s the risk for them all the time during this travel.”(Amanda, personal interview, Nov 05, 2018)
We can affirm they just had an idea of what could come from the rest of the travel and believed they were ready to confront these risks for getting to the border. Avoiding certain states, going with the caravan and girls taking pills in order not to get pregnant, were the actions they consider enough to confront these probably risks in their travel.
At the same time, their fear was less than their desire to get out from their countries and get into the United States. They decided to do whatever was necessary for crossing the border because as one declared: “we do not have anything else to lose.”(Rosa, personal interview, Nov 05, 2018)
For understanding this challenge to the United States and Mexico which have to protect migrants from any kind of violence and insecurity in their territory and mostly from any human violation, human security theory can be used to understand how and why migrants are important for both governments.
Bertrand Ramcharan points out that human rights define human security: “To be secure is to be safe, protected. Security is a secure condition or feeling. It is respectfully submitted that international human rights norms define the meaning of human security.” (Ramcharan, 2002)
The importance of human security for people all over the world is that human rights is a “fundamental liberal assumption that individuals have a basic right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and that the international community has an obligation to protect and promote these rights” (Hampson, Daudelin, Hay, Reid y Martin, 2002)
Shahrbanou mention that before the 1994 Human Development Report, where the term freedom from want and freedom from fear was considered, there was Roosevelt’s plea for the respect to the four freedoms: fear, want, speech and worship in 1941 in his speech to the State of the Union Address. (Martin y Owen, 2015) So as we can see human security is not a new concept or idea in international politics to consider peoples’ security.
At the same time for Shahrbanou the human security approach includes: human development, human rights and security. (Figure 1)
Figure 1 :Human Security Triangle (Martin y Owen, 2015)
This framework gives us an idea on how these three concepts are connected and related to one another at the same time. If there is the violation of one of them the others are affected, so security is part not just of human rights but also development.
Taking all these considerations for human security, we can make the assumption that for both governments’ (Mexican and American) responsibility about this issue should have been to secure the integrity of migrants and to develop measures for that.
If we take the declarations from migrants interviews the Mexican government was not guarantying their integrity during their travel to the northern border because they were not allowed to cross the southern border by authorities and when they could, their safety from accidents and other kind of violence they had was due to their decisions, but also because the government was not making anything to prevent them.
If we take migrants’ declarations, accusing the Mexican authorities who took advantages from them and their knowledge about the presence of criminal organizations in Mexican territory that could menace their safety and integrity during their way to the border, we can say human security was not guaranteed by the Mexican government.
The first reaction from the Mexican government was to prevent migrants from crossing the southern border because there was a pressure from the American government who considered them as a menace. When they could cross the border the Mexican government changed its policy from preventing to offer and guarantee their presence in the territory not just by local authorities but also by launching a program if they decided to stay.
We can say the launching of this program had a double purpose: in one way was to avoid they could get to the northern border, because the Mexican president Peña Nieto clearly pointed out they should stay in Guerrero and Chiapas two states in the southern part of the republic. In that way they were not going to reach the northern border.
From other perspective this was an opportunity for improving their lives because they could stay in Mexico if they preferred to do so, in the interviews declared: “I want to go out from poverty and to have a better live for my family” and that was an opportunity.
In that way we can affirm the Mexican government was taking actions and taking care of their human security with this program because it was preventing them for continuing their journey to the northern border and to face violence and other kind of menaces in their way.
Human rights and human security are frameworks related and interconnected. For example, if there is not economic development in a country people could not have access to food, education and so on. (UNDP, 1994)
In the case of Central American migrants, they referred in the interviews that they were traveling to the United States looking for an opportunity for development which they could not have in their countries because there was not stability, economic development and a proper situation for them to have a better live. Also, there was violence and they were afraid to be killed, kidnaped or robbed, the government was not providing the necessary to have a secure live in their countries.
So, in this way we can see the relationship proposed by Shahrbanou; migrants were in an underdeveloped economic condition in their countries and in an insecure atmosphere because of the gangs’ violence. Migration was the only way to escape from these two threats and there was no point of return besides their journey had been tired, dangerous and insecure since the beginning. But when they were migrating to the US their security was menaced by gang’s organizations and even Mexican authorities.
Also the issue was who should guarantee their rights during their journey from C.A. to the US in crossing the Mexican territory, (Central American) governments or the Mexican government? If we consider the fact that states are responsible for their security as a responsibility for their wellbeing because they have the right to be secure then all governments should take care of their security. (Tadjbakhsh,2007)
The C.A. countries did not do anything for them at any time even there was not an official declaration to express sadness or worry for them. From the Mexican government has been explained what it did but also the question and the criticism from society was: they should not be there and also why the Mexican government was taking care of them as if they were its citizens. So, from this point of view, migrants were demanding security during their travel to a government who was not obliged to do that, it was just because they were crossing its territory and that was the duty acquired but not as part of a relationship between citizens and state.
In that order of ideas, the C.A. governments were passing their duty for guarantying human security to migrants to the Mexican government because they were crossing the borders. But at the same time there could be another way to take care of their human security by consular presence with bilateral agreements but they did not want or were interested to do so.
So, human security was not guaranteed by migrants’ governments. It was assumed by Mexican government but in another way, it was just reacting to an emergency for which it was not prepare at all. And the American government was not even thinking about their security, just seeing them as a menace as they were approaching to the border.
Taking all this as a referent for migrants’ security during their travel to the US border they were expendable not just for CA governments but also Mexican and Americans, – the initial one assuming a duty for which was not prepare and wanted to have, and the latter rejecting their arrival to the border. So migrants were adrift in their travel and not protected in their vital individual security.
The migrants caravans are the new form of migration in the Latin America territory and probably in the world, if we take the case from Syria or other countries where migrants are running away from violence, we could say Central Americans were joining with a purpose, and not were directly affected by a war or conflict as Syrians.
So, the caravans could be considered as the new form of migration because they are pushing governments to consider their wellbeing and security during their travel to get to the US border as seen in this research. Also, these countries are not in a conflict but there is a permanent insecure atmosphere which did not allow them to live in peace and have a life, secure and with possibilities to improve.
And as Shahrbanou mentions there is an interconnection between human development, human rights and security as shown before that applies to the C.A. caravan’s case. They are traveling because they feel insecure in their countries, so they cannot develop economically but when they migrate (crossing the Mexican territory) they are insecure because of the menaces in the region.
At the same time this new form of migration is the result from the experience of persons who tried to cross the Mexican territory before and failed because of the insecurity due to the presence of cartels, the authorities actions in not respecting their human security and in not been able to cross the US border when they got there because of the American border patrol and the criminal organizations spread all over the border expecting to take advantage from them.
Caravans are also the result from the past. When conflict and wars were present in C.A. in the 80’s, the international community considered it was due to the influence from the communist ideology and did not want to realize it was the result from a long period of dictatorship which was taking away. Poverty, hunger and insecurity were the result also from the deportation from the US of hundreds of Central Americans who became criminals or already were (Maras).
So, from this point of view we are witnessing the result from several decades of abandonment from the international and national community unworried about these circumstances which were accumulating during all this period of time and exploded in the caravans to get to the US.
The challenge for governments in this part of the continent and area of the world is: how to mitigate and resolve something that has not been attended for a long period of time. What is the result going to be if there is no policy to resolve and handle this migration issue? considering migrants expressed in the interviews: “we are not criminals”.
Donald Trump could not fix the system as he promised during his campaign and when he tried to fix it, he angered many American states and local authorities with his migration policy and that’s not the way to resolve the problem in keeping away migrants and get rid of them.
For him the problem is just to deport and not let migrants and all kind of “bad things” to cross the border as drugs, weapons and so on. To build a wall and offend another government saying it will pay for, it is not fixing the problem, but making it worse.
Finally, Trump is not worried about human security for migrants. To deport migrants is not a human security action and to build a wall, between his country and Mexico, is not either. At the same time, this foreign policy became an internal policy issue when states were pressured to detain and deport persons who look like illegal migrants and that action is much more xenophobic, than national policy.
Central American governments continue to not do anything about this issue and even they do not want to act for preventing illegal migration, they are ignoring the problem and do not want to assume their responsibility. For them the idea of human security is something far away from their current policy.
There was no official declaration from CA governments about this humanitarian crisis that confronted the Mexican government for their population. And it was not expected to have one as the humiliation could be worst. So CA governments will keep quiet which can be interpreted that they prefer people to leave than stay.
Lastly we could see the Mexican government was the only one who had to confront this challenge because migrants were in the country (illegally) and had to do two things: one was to preserve their security meanwhile they were crossing the territory and second was to demonstrate that it was not violating their human rights at all. Launching a program for them so they could stay if they wanted can be taken as a major action for preserving their security and demonstrating there was not a xenophobic feeling toward them.
But the human security for migrants was not granted at all, as was mentioned by migrants when they were interviewed. They felt they were under the threat of criminals in their country and while traveling across the Mexican territory and even they did not know what to expect in arriving to the border. They just knew they wanted to cross, but the American government was prepared to allow them to do that.
If caravans are going to be the new way for migration in the region, it is the governments that could face challenges on human security and they have to be prepared. If they do not coordinate themselves this kind of migration issue could affect not just migrants’ integrity, but also the security of all people in the region, If they opt to travel with surveillance from criminal organizations or some kind of agreement with them for their security, then migration will affect the whole region from CA countries to the US border.
*Dr. Luis Miguel Morales Gámez is Researcher in the Institute Of Government Science and Strategic Development (ICGDE) from the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla (BUAP)
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- The migrant’s names were changed and just their countries, sex (female or male) was put in the interviewed. They accepted to be talked about their experience during their staying in the church shelter in Puebla which is run by Padre Gerardo. ↑
- Those who rejected to be interview were not taken as part of this analysis even they coincide with the stories who accepted. ↑