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Mexico becomes the final destination of refugees from the region


Between 2014 and 2019, the number of registered asylum applications in the country increased from 2,137 to 70,418, showing an increase of more than 3,000%. It is expected that this year more than 90,000 applications will be received, which represents a challenge for immigration authorities.

She recalls that she had to leave Nicaragua at the end of September 2018, avoiding airports due to the intense persecution of the Government of Daniel Ortega.

He had participated in many demonstrations and says he cannot forget the Mother's Day massacre, when thousands of people walked the streets of Managua and were shot down by security forces.

That May 30 there were seven deaths in the capital.

“Then they started shooting at our house, that's where we knew we had to leave,” says Marian Pérez Guerra, 39, with a sad look as she recounted the threats she constantly received.

"They said they were going to kidnap me, in some cases they

told me they were going to rape me, to disappear me,

" he asserts.

They rescue 33 migrants who were locked in a moving truck

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[The Biden Administration asks humanitarian organizations for help to select the migrants most in need of asylum]

Assassinations, forced disappearances, arbitrary detentions and, finally, desperate exile, are the milestones that he experienced during that bloody year that

culminated with more than 300 deaths and thousands of injuries due to the repression of the social outbreak in Nicaragua.

For this reason, he decided to put his whole life in plastic bags and cross borders.

 “When I came to Mexico I weighed 49 kilos, I had lost my appetite and the ability to sleep because I had constant insomnia.

They gave me panic attacks,

”he explains and emphasizes that he set foot on Mexican soil on October 2, just on the anniversary of the Tlatelolco massacre.

“You arrive very beaten, and you have to learn to transform the pain.

That is why I will always be grateful to Mexico for giving me refuge ”, he concludes.

Marian Pérez Guerra, Nicaraguan refugee living in Mexico Oscar Sánchez

[Coyotes of the Caribbean: the disappearance of five migrants reveals the rise and nightmare of reaching the United States by sea]

Pérez Guerra is part of a tide that runs through the world, erasing limits and escaping from horrors.

Sometimes, this massive flight is generated by totalitarian regimes, bloody wars, climate change or, simply, economies in ruins that drive a human flow that even the deadly COVID-19 pandemic could not diminish:

in 2020 there were 82.4 million refugees and internally displaced people

, according to the most recent report by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

This is a record figure that shows an increase of 4% compared to the 79.5 million in 2019, and which is more than double the almost 40 million a decade ago.

It is as if the whole of Germany is empty.

This was the operation that rescued 206 migrants in two coyote houses in Mexico

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[Panic attacks and self-harm: this is the despair experienced by migrant children in the emergency shelters of the Biden Administration]

The drama of Venezuela

Unhcr also warns that 68% of the world's refugees and displaced people come from five countries: Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Burma.


the case of Venezuela which, without armed conflict, totaling 4 million people displaced

by political and economic crisis.

Ángel Sucre is one of those millions of Venezuelans who have weary the roads and trails of Latin America looking for a better future.

At 28, he has traveled through more than seven countries in his quest to escape the persecution of the Nicolás Maduro regime that imprisoned and tortured him for more than a year.

“I could hardly sleep because they forced me to exercise until I passed out and then they grabbed a board to hit me on the back and ribs.

The pain woke me up,

”he says about his stay at the 26 de Julio prison, where he was held for a year and a half.

His case was denounced by various human rights organizations such as the Venezuelan Penal Forum, which highlighted the "procedural uncertainty" and the physical abuse that he suffered.

The Border Patrol intercepted more than 180,000 migrants in May, 62% of which were returned to Mexico

June 10, 202100: 34

[Forced displacement also separates families in Latin America, United Nations warns]

“They did not forgive me that I fought in the streets and I saw how they killed my classmates, I saw Roberto Redman and Bassil DaCosta fall, all those innocent students murdered by the dictatorship.

Maduro was debased in power, "he explained last week during his visit to Mexico City.

Sucre was an engineering student and was the spokesperson for Jóvenes Venezolanos, an opposition organization that participated in multiple mobilizations against the government between 2014 and 2017.

“The worst thing was when they rolled you up on a mat and hit you with their balls.

Do you know why they did that?

Because it doesn't leave scars,

but it breaks you inside,

”he said while walking through the zócalo of the Mexican capital.

Sucre was released in September 2018, but a few weeks later he was notified of a new judicial process against him, for which he decided to leave the country.

He arrived in Peru in October of that year and settled in Lima where he learned to cook, to the point that he claims that he made "the best rice with chicken in Miraflores."

When he was just getting used to freedom and began to dream of having his own place that would merge the gastronomy of Peru and Venezuela, COVID-19 arrived.

Ángel Sucre, a Venezuelan political prisoner, during his visit to Mexico City, June 2021. Oscar Sánchez

[A Border Patrol agent in Texas is charged with migrant smuggling]

“Everything closed, sometimes Lima seemed like a ghost town.

It was exasperating and that increased the xenophobia due to the crisis.

When they made a graffiti near my house that said 'damn Venezuelans', I understood that I had to go.

I left in January 2021 and here I am ”, he says with a smile, after traveling thousands of kilometers by bus, cars, motorcycles and boats to cross Ecuador, Colombia and the dangerous Darien on an unusual journey through the jungle where he ran into several times with death.

All the women are raped in the Darien

, please don't go.

They steal everything from men, it is almost impossible to cross without something serious happening to you.

In addition, many people die of exhaustion, "he warns.

After escaping from a refugee camp in Panama, crossing Central America fleeing from the gangs and getting on the Beast (the famous Mexican freight train), Sucre says that he will try to reach the United States to fulfill his dream of “studying and being a better person. ”.

But he does not rule out staying in Mexico, if the US immigration authorities decide to return him.

“It is an incredible country, I feel happy here.

Everywhere there are problems but Mexicans are enterprising people, the truth is that they inspire you to stay, ”he said with emotion.

[Crossing the border becomes a lottery: some migrants are returned (and kidnapped), others manage to stay]

Refugee destination

In recent years, Mexico has ceased to be a transit country for people heading to the United States and has become the final destination of an important migratory flow.

The figures from the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (Comar) are eloquent: between 2014 and 2019, the number of asylum applications registered in the country increased from 2,137 to 70,418, showing

an increase of more than 3,000%


For example, in 2013 only 1,296 applications were registered, but four years later they were already at 14,619, and by 2019 more than 70,000 were received. In recent years the number of requests has doubled, except for 2020 when travel restrictions brought the number down to 41,179, but by May of this year, the total for 2020 had already been exceeded with almost 42,000 requests. The

total figure for 2021

is projected to

be between 90 and 100,000 asylum applications.

For Andrés Ramírez Silva, head of the Comar, the reasons for the outbreak of applications are multiple.

Due to its territorial extension and economic opportunities, Mexico has the capacity to receive the current migratory flow driven, above all, by the successive crises of the Central American countries that drag decades of bad governments, in addition to the poverty exacerbated by the closings of the pandemic and climate change that destroys crops and the most vulnerable populations.

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“The country has the capacity to receive them, however, that poses a significant challenge for us because we are prepared to serve a certain number of people and, suddenly, it rises very quickly until it becomes something emergency. That is why it

does not reach the budget, nor the operational capacity

. It is a phenomenon that is occurring in many countries, not only in Mexico, ”explains Ramírez, who worked for more than two decades at UNHCR and is an expert on migration policies in the region.

One of the characteristics of the asylum process in the country is that the person must remain in the state where the application is made during the time that their procedures last, which, in normal times, should range between 45 and 90 business days. However, due to the pandemic, Comar announced on March 24, 2020 that it was suspending the deadlines for these processes, which has generated multiple complaints from migrants who are trapped in places where

they cannot work because, mostly , they do not have the adequate documentation

while the Mexican State fights against the delay generated by the sanitary measures.

“The vast majority of people enter from the south, but the state that has the highest percentage of the border line is Chiapas, specifically from the Tapachula part.

They apply there and, by law, they have to stay there.

That is the paradox because a bottleneck is generated and

in Chiapas, which is one of the poorest states, 71% of the applicants remain

, ”says Ramírez.

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This paradox was experienced firsthand by Katsury, a 24-year-old trans woman who fled Guatemala after suffering several years of physical and psychological abuse by her partner. He explains that the beatings and abuse affected his mental health so much that he tried to commit suicide twice. After daring to denounce his partner, who was imprisoned, he began to receive threats and in January of this year he requested protection at the border with Mexico.

“When I arrived I was desperate, I told the military that I needed a shelter and they let me pass but you have to understand that the Comar is overwhelmed in Chiapas, they don't have the capacity.

And when they told me that they could only give me a regional permit, that I had to stay there, I had to keep running.

Nobody understands that there they can kill me because that is next to Guatemala

and anyone can pass armed, ”he explains with fear.

With the help of UNHCR, Katsury began his process in Mexico City but has yet to receive a response due to multiple bureaucratic delays.

She is still battling depression, but says she is happy to be able to work as a hairstylist, her favorite trade, and hopes to stay in the country.

I feel happy because here my rights have been recognized, that does not happen in Guatemala.

If we had an adequate government that helps the population and that the economy is fine, without violence, I think that we would not migrate to another country ”, explains Katsury.

Katsury, a Guatemalan refugee, at the UNHCR headquarters in Mexico City, June 2021. Oscar Sánchez

["The US should be a safe haven": Kamala Harris defends migrants on Noticias Telemundo after asking them "not to come"]

The lag and the horror

In Chiapas, the local media and human rights organizations have denounced the limitations of the authorities to process the intense migratory flow that has reached 2,000 people a day, but only between 600 and 700 foreigners can be served.

According to an investigation by El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, published in May, there is a long lag in resolutions to recognize refugee status. "For 2019, the number of applications was 70,609 and

the number of cases resolved was 14,234, which is only 20%

, which shows that there is a fairly high number of pending cases," explain the researchers of the report called

Profiles, dynamics and perspectives on the situation of refugees in Mexico


Based on data from the Comar, the experts point out that from January 1, 2018 to October 25, 2019, 90,397 applications for refugee status were made, of which 70.6 percent (63,860) were pending. of



Of that figure,

"6,230 people had been waiting for more than a year,"

the document states.

[Biden confirms that the refugee limit will increase to 62,500 after criticism for maintaining the quota set by Trump]

Another condition that complicates the process is that when people have to leave the entity where they made their request, the Comar considers the process abandoned, so they have to restart all the paperwork in most cases.

“There are people who have a year or more waiting for a resolution in

those places where there are no job opportunities, but there is a lot of discrimination.

In addition, the persecutions reach there because it is the border, that is why people leave and lose their processes, becoming more vulnerable ”, says Alejandra Macías, director of Asylum Access Mexico.

Since January 2020, Carlos Monge has not had any answers from the Mexican government.

He explains that he never wanted to leave Chalchuapa, his town in El Salvador, where he was dedicated to agriculture and loved to visit the ruins of Tazumal, an imposing Mayan settlement of pyramids and sophisticated stone temples that are surrounded by deep green.

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“I am proud to be indigenous, that is why I tattooed a jaguar that is sacred to us.


I couldn't handle the criminals who always beat me.

I had no life, ”he explains with dismay.

Monge crossed the Mexican border in January of last year and walked to Acayucan, Veracruz, where he started his application and planned to stay in an immigration station until it was finished.

But COVID-19 disrupted their plans. Weeks later, the Mexican authorities transferred him, without his authorization, along with dozens of migrants on buses to the border with Guatemala. “Nobody told us anything, pure lies. The bad thing is that

they can kill me, I can't go back,

”he says with concern. Thus, he walked through various states to Mexico City, where he arrived with injured knees.

As he was removed from Veracruz, Comar considered that he abandoned his process.

"It's crazy, the same migration people arbitrarily moved us, the only thing I want is to live here, work and be free, but they won't let me," he narrates while sobbing.

Monge lasted almost seven months in the Mexican capital, sleeping in empty rooms, always on the ground and in the open, for which he fell ill with chronic asthma that prevented him from breathing well.

With the help of Asylum Access, he started the process again in Mexico City, but had to interrupt it because he never got a job.

[The United States definitively ends Trump's "Stay in Mexico" policy, which returned asylum seekers to that country]

“He looked like a lost soul around the city. Nobody gave me a chance because everything was bad because of the pandemic. I liked going to the parks, looking at people and I would go to Chapultepec, where my country signed peace, ”he says, referring to the Castle of Chapultepec where the Salvadoran Government and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front ended 12 years of civil war in 1992.

Monge is one of the children of that war that produced more than 70,000 deaths and thousands of disappeared.

Without money or help because the shelters stopped receiving him, in November he began to present symptoms of pneumonia.

In a panic at the possibility that, in the midst of a pandemic, he would be admitted to a hospital, he decided to leave the capital.

Since then, he has lived in Tijuana, where he helps with the security tasks of a pharmacy, and assures that the warm weather helped him improve his breathing.

“Unfortunately I lost the whole process again and there I am fighting with my lawyer to see if we can get the Comar to answer us.

If I had wanted to go, there is the wall,

"he said in a video call, while pointing to the border fence with the United States.

"But I want to be Mexican," he asserts firmly.

Planet Earth: The climate emergency drives the massive migration of Central Americans to the United States.

March 18, 202103: 30

[Detentions of migrants at the border break record for the third consecutive month, but the arrival of single children falls again]

However, delays, unemployment, depression and stress from the uncertainty of not having a legal stay in the country are not the greatest dangers that refugees face.

There are multiple complaints of people kidnapped by criminal organizations, enslaved by the cartels and murdered while they await the resolution of their procedures, as happened to

Cristian San Martín Estrada, a Cuban asylum seeker under the Protocol for the Protection of Migrants, who was assassinated in May

in Ciudad Juárez when he was only a few days away from re-entering the United States.

Due to this situation, Doctors without Borders, an NGO dedicated to health care, created in 2018 a Comprehensive Care Center focused on dealing with the cases of refugees who have suffered episodes of extreme violence during the migration route.

“The abuses we deal with range from blunt beatings, mutilations, kidnappings, extortion, death threats, people who witness torture, they are also forced to carry out actions against their will and many are victims of sexual abuse.

It is

violence characterized by cruelty, which is carried out in order to cause pain

and suffering to the victim, ”explains Jorge Diego López Núñez, a psychologist with the organization.

Andrés Ramírez, head of the Comar, in Mexico City, June 2021. Oscar Sánchez

["When are they coming?": Girls abandoned at the border complain to their parents for not being with them]

In the last two years they have cared for 264 people.

Pedro, a 44-year-old Guatemalan asylum seeker, is one of them.

Sitting in the courtyard in the center, under a tree, he tries to control his right leg, which is shaking incessantly.  

"I don't know why that had to happen to me," she says between sobs and shows the probe she has been carrying for months.

Pedro, who asked to remain anonymous for security reasons, arrived in Mexico persecuted by the gangs that extorted him to the point that he had to abandon his family's onion crops.

In January 2021 he boarded a freight train that took him to Veracruz but, on the way, three men boarded his wagon.

Since he had no money or a cell phone, he was repeatedly raped.

“As I could, I got off at Tierra Blanca and asked a man to give me alcohol to clean myself, but I was very mistreated.

I don't know why they did that to me if I am a man,

why they didn't kill me

, ”he says, deep in tears.

They enable an asylum program for migrant minors.

In May alone, 14,000 children crossed into the United States alone.

June 16, 202101: 42

["I'm worse than before the operation": this was the ICE center closed for unnecessary surgeries on immigrants]

Unfortunately, the abuse he suffered did not end there.

As he could, he managed to reach an immigration station in Saltillo, Coahuila, where he was plunged into hell.

Pedro says that immigration officials

tortured him for weeks, beating him, taking photos and videos of him while making fun of him


When he remembers it, he shakes uncontrollably, and describes that he was given electric shocks to his genitals, in addition to all the physical and psychological punishment he received.

When he was finally released, he decided to file a complaint and is in the middle of a legal process.

Paradoxically, he still does not have a resolution on his asylum case.

When he talks about football, he smiles a little and says that he liked to play as a forward.

He says he dreams of scoring goals again when the probe is removed.

“I still can't, I have to have surgery.

But I don't lose hope, ”he says distractedly as he looks at his hands, his fingers crowned by his eaten nails.

When asked if he wants to continue in Mexico, after all he has lived through, he answers without hesitation: “

Of course I want to stay, otherwise why did I suffer all this?

I think that, God willing, my future will be here ”.

If you have information about cases of discrimination in Mexico or Central America, you can write to


Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2021-06-25

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