Social Issues

Guatemalans deported from Mexico feel abandoned

By Esteban Biba

La Libertad, Guatemala, Aug 19 (EFE).- The hundreds of Guatemalan migrants who arrived here Thursday after being deported from neighboring Mexico in the course of a failed quest to reach the United States find themselves in a remote, unfamiliar town without the means to return to their homes.

For several weeks now, Mexico has been expelling Guatemalan, Honduran and Salvadoran migrants Central Americans via the border post in El Ceibo, 600 km (373 mi) north of Guatemala City.

Unlike some of the busier crossings, El Ceibo, part of the municipality of La Libertad, has little in the way of reception facilities or staff to aid returnees.

Several NGOs have people on the ground here offering the deportees access to cell phones.

Vicenta, a 21-year-old woman traveling alone, told Efe tearfully that she called a family member living in the US and asked him to wire her some money so she can get home.

The same challenge faces Mynor, who is trying to figure out how he and his two children will reach their home in the southern province of Chiquimula, nearly 700 km away.

Efe has seen upward of a thousand migrants arrive in La Libertad over the last two days.

The deportees do not go through passport control, making it impossible to determine exact numbers or a breakdown by country of origin.

Mynor and his kids stayed briefly in the one shelter at El Ceibo.

“We were all on top of each other, many coughing and sick,” he recounted.

In a typical year, more than 300,000 Guatemalans set out on the dangerous journey across Mexico in the hoping of attaining the “American Dream.”

Guatemala’s immigration agency, the IGM, said that Mexico’s decision to deport migrants via El Ceibo is permitted under the terms of accords among the countries of the region.

But in a statement issued Wednesday, the IGM said it was working with domestic and international partners to address the situation and that it expects soon to establish a “protocol” for assisting the deportees.

One of the migrants stranded in La Libertad, Raul, 27, said that he feels as if he is trapped in a maze with no exit.

Central Americans flee their homelands due to poverty and crime, he said, yet if they are captured in Mexico or the US, they end up marooned in the middle of nowhere.

“I am tired,” he told Efe, recalling his attempt to reach the US with his young daughter. “We were a group of 125 people from different countries. The ‘coyotes’ (people smugglers) moved us from one storehouse to another to get us close to the United States.”

After the nearly three-week-long odyssey in Mexico, Raul said that he will not make another attempt to reach the US.

“It’s very dangerous for my daughter,” he said. EFE eb/dr

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