Mexicans displaced by violence make new start in border city
By Manuel Ayala
Tijuana, Mexico, Mar 2 (EFE).- A family driven from their village in southern Mexico by organized crime abandoned the idea of seeking asylum in the United States in favor of selling spicy quesadillas to tourists in this border metropolis.
The family matriarch and 11 of her kin, including grown children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, set up shop a little more than a year ago in Tijuana, next door to San Diego, California.
The family, who declined to give their surname, are among nearly 380,000 internally displaced people in Mexico, according to a report released last year by the country’s Supreme Court.
Running a business is nothing new for the matriarch, who had a grocery back home in Guerrero state.
One of her adult children, Maria, told EFE that the family left because the gang her mother was paying for protection became increasingly demanding.
“There is too much violence, much extortion and people really can’t get ahead if they are not paying quotas (to gangs), since they threaten your family, and we all came here to seek a better future for our children,” she said.
She said that when they first arrived in Tijuana, her mother’s plan was for the family to seek asylum in the US. Mexicans accounted for nearly 30 percent of the record 2.76 million undocumented people detained by US Customs and Border Protection during the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2022.
But Maria saw opportunities in Tijuana and the family decided to stay, yet even she has been surprised by how successful the venture has become.
“At the start we did not think the business would have the success it has today, because we couldn’t imagine it, but the seasoning we brought from our village is what has pleased the people,” she told EFE.
“Because many people come here from many places, then they try the food, they like it, they come back and they also recommend us,” Maria said.
“My mom is the one who has sacrificed, but we have worked with her since we were children and so we grew up in the environment of everybody working and likewise our children are with us, always studying and working,” she said.
And the family encourages friends and relatives from Guerrero to follow their example.
“Tijuana is a very productive city and there is work for everybody, it’s just of matter of looking for it and working honestly,” Maria said.
The idea of crossing into the US, “is already in the past,” she said. EFE ma/dr