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The migrant caravan was born of calamity

  • 03 December 2018


Thanks in some part to the fulminations of President Trump in the lead-up to the November mid-term elections, the 'migrant caravan' that left Honduras in early October en route to the US border became a media event.

By the time it had crossed borders in Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico, the caravan included around 5000 people, hailing from El Salvador and Nicaragua as well as Honduras and Guatemala; and was being covered by numerous global media outlets. Trump said that they were a mass of criminals seeking to invade the US while towns and cities across southern Mexico rose to the challenge of feeding, clothing and sheltering those passing through.

But why would thousands of people leave everything behind to travel on foot for thousands of miles through sometimes dangerous and inhospitable territory, only to arrive at the border city of Tijuana where they are currently facing deep anti-migrant sentiment, indefinite waiting periods on applications to cross into North America, and have been tear-gassed by US border patrol?

The answer lies in the human calamities that currently threaten to engulf us all: climate change, wide-scale government corruption, brutal state violence, and flourishing non-state gang rule. It's currently estimated that there are 8000 waiting at the border in Tijuana; most from the caravan that caught Trump's sights in November but also including prior and subsequent arrivals.

Those who left Honduras in early October formed the bulk of the caravan, and with good reason. The Central American nation has long been considered 'the most dangerous in the world' due to the collapse of government and the rise of drug cartels and other organised crime gangs in dominating the population. Assault and murder are common and tend to occur with complete impunity, while homelessness and unemployment are rife. As The Daily Beast reported in October:

'About two thirds of the population lives in poverty and the total number increased by roughly six per cent in 2017; 80 per cent of workers earn below the minimum wage of a few hundred dollars per month. On top of this, Honduras ranks among the most violent countries on the planet. Fewer than one in ten crimes is ever solved.'

On top of this, Honduras has been severely affected by drought related to climate change. Most farmers this year were not even able to yield the usual annual harvest.


"The history and present of US intervention in this part of the Americas is thoroughly entwined