Apr 27, 2015
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske has assured Congress that fewer children and families are fleeing Central America and crossing the U.S. border “illegally” than last year. He said there won’t be a repeat of the political crisis that came out of the surge of unaccompanied children held by the U.S. Border Patrol and very often deported.
But that is only because, under orders from the Obama administration, the Mexican government has stepped up its hunt of migrants from Central America before they reach the U.S., often holding them in big, miserable detention centers that are more like concentration camps. One of the main modes of transport 1,500 miles through Mexico for those who couldn’t afford the very high price demanded by smugglers had been by riding on top of giant freight trains. But under orders from the U.S. last summer, that was also closed off by Mexican authorities. “The Guatemalan border with Chiapas is now our southern border,” bragged Alan Bersin, the U.S. border czar. Of course, Mexican and Central American gangs, each controlling different territories along the route and often working with government authorities, continue to prey upon, kidnap and murder thousands of Central American migrants, with estimates that more than 80 per cent of all females making the journey continue to be raped.
But none of that violence and hardship has stopped the same number or even more migrants from Central America from taking their chances anyway. Obviously, they are being driven by the harsh, often violent conditions that afflict large areas of Central America. Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, has the highest murder rate in the world.
Living conditions in these countries, long plundered by U.S. imperialism, have gotten much worse over the last years of worldwide economic crisis. But beyond that, gang violence against working people and the poor in the cities has also gotten much worse. For example, gangs don’t just kill the kids if they don’t join up “willingly,” but the entire family.
So, the migration crisis out of Central America continues: stay or leave, hundreds of thousands of people face a high possibility of violence and even death.