Salvadoran migrants leave the capital San Salvador on October 31, 2018, intending to travel to the United States.
About 2,000 Salvadorans, including women and children, left the capital San Salvador Wednesday morning with the intention of going to the United States, along with thousands of Central American migrants already on their way to the “American Dream”, have AFP journalists found.
Migrants, who say they are fleeing unemployment, misery and the violence of criminal gangs in their country, have split into two “caravans”. This departure was inspired by the example of the thousands of Honduran migrants who have already crossed the border with Mexico and are heading north to the US border where has deployed the army to bar their passage.
“We leave because here there is a lot of poverty and delinquency,” says María Cortez, 36, who started the trip with her husband Jonás and five children aged between three and 19 years.
“Here, there is no hope. I have been unemployed since February, my wife has not had a job since May … That’s what made us decide to leave, “says Anthony Guevara, from eastern El Salvador.
A first group left San Salvador before dawn after camping on site, the second in the course of the morning. They took the direction of the border with Guatemala, which they must cross before arriving in Mexico.
In their path, migrants are greeted and encouraged by motorists and bus passengers.
Migrants receive food donations from Catholic communities or civil society organizations along the way. They are on the lookout for trucks whose drivers would agree to transport them a few kilometers.
A previous “caravan” of half a thousand migrants has already left El Salvador last Sunday and was able to clear the border between Guatemala and Mexico on Monday night, according to official sources.
When they leave, Unicef also has maps showing the location of specially equipped hostels on their route, as well as a document listing recommendations for protection against danger and how to behave when arrested in Mexico.
Ruben and Lilian, 45 and 38, decided to ignore the warnings of Unicef employees and leave with their four children aged eight months, six years, 18 years and 21 years. Ruben, who is hiding under a first name, explains that it’s been twenty years that he tries to practice his job as a baker in a neighborhood in the eastern suburbs of San Salvador where criminal gangs are a reign of terror.
Unicef warned me of the dangers, but we took the road to the North. The children’s papers are in order, “says Ruben.
It is also the threat of the gangs that pushed the carpenter Abel Galicia to choose exile at the age of 40 years. In the absence of a fixed job, he sold coconuts, and almost all his earnings were extorted from him by the offenders.
This “forced migration” will further increase if the Salvadoran state does not provide an “immediate response” to the needs of the population to have a “dignified life” in terms of safety and work, warned Karen Sanchez, in charge of migration issues at the Institute of Human Rights, attached to the Central American Jesuit University (IDHUCA).