Tijuana, Mexico, Jun 6 (EFE).- Within the massive movements of humans in the northern Mexican border city of Tijuana, there is a sector that has remained constant for several years – those displaced by internal violence in southwestern states like Michoacan and Guerrero and who have basically settled in border shelters, a reflection of the growing impact organized crime is having elsewhere in the country.
That is how Jose Maria Garcia Lara – the director of the Movimiento Juventud 2000 shelter, located a kilometer (0.62 miles) from the San Ysidro border crossing into the United States – explained it to EFE on Tuesday.
“Unfortunately, the arrival of migrants from Michoacan and Guerrero at the shelter has not slacked off, and I think that the same situation is continuing at the other shelters since this problem of lack of security and forced displacement has not been brought under control,” he said in an interview with EFE.
The greater portion of migrants living at Movimiento Juventud 2000 are displaced Mexicans, including several young single mothers and many children and teens, all of whom left their towns for fear of being recruited by the gangs or organized criminal organizations.
Garcia Lara said that, although two years ago there was a massive wave of people displaced from those states, “that doesn’t mean that this situation has ended or that the problems in those states have been solved.” On the contrary, “now people are also leaving (the state of) Chiapas due to forced displacement.”
“This seems not to be ending. They keep arriving, not in the same numbers as before but people and families are not ceasing to arrive daily from those states and that speaks to the situation in that part of the country,” he said.
Death threats, kidnappings, extortion, murders, and disappearances are just some of the factors spurring families, and even entire communities, to leave their homes, assets and belongings, not just to find a better future for their children but also trying to avoid harm and survive.
One young man displaced from Michoacan who refused to give his name for security reasons told EFE that in his home community there were several violent incidents each day “that are not always published in the press” but which affect everyone there.
“There’s a real collection racket going on there. People have to pay and if you don’t do so they start the violence against you. I had a business and that’s how it starts. They come to you and take your money and nobody can avoid it. Everyone has to pay at some point and, of course, that makes things more difficult,” he said.
He had to leave with his wife and son due to that situation, which made him feel helpless “because I was doing well, my wife and I were practically (economically) stable. I felt good, I had my career, I’m an architect and, well, I’m telling you, you think that you shouldn’t just leave … I really didn’t want to leave, but they pushed us to it.”
Hortensia Moreno, also from Michoacan, said that she left her home state with her 14-year-old son because twice the criminals tried to kidnap him, and later members of an organized criminal group did kidnap and murder her husband.
What were calm communities before, she said, became filled with “horrible fear” when organized criminal groups began recruiting minors from the local populace. “Yes, they’re taking away lots of guys. They’re taking them away to work and so they wanted my son, so that he could work for them,” she said.
The greatest fear that the mothers like Hortensia who fled with their children had was that one day the gangs would take the kids away and they’d become part of those criminal groups, perhaps never to return or perhaps the mothers would receive no further word about them, and so they abandoned all they had to protect them.