Caravan from el Salvador

Oscar Alfonso Mejia

Often academics and activists concentrate on the issues surrounding the United States-Mexico border and little thought is given to the Mexico-Guatemala border. The mistreatment of migrants crossing into the Mexican border is a real pressing issue and the narrative I chose to excerpt from a recent National Geographic publication highlights a story about 3 friends that met through WhatsApp and decided to radically change their lives by joining the caravan to the United States in January 2019 (Strochlic, 2018). Here is a part of their journey.

Jackelin Martinez joined messenger groups that formed after the Honduran caravan begun their own journey North. The chats on WhatsApp were filled with pertinent information regarding packing list and meeting points. Jackelin wanted to leave El Salvador to explore the world and find a job. They are traveling as apart of a group provided some form of safety in numbers. Miguel Funes and Jakelin met in a chat in their quest to find the best meeting point to get on their journey to the United States. Miguel lived in San Salvador, and Jakelin lived in a nearby village. They decided to meet at the bus station.

The urgency to leave prompted by the release of Jackelin’s sexual abuser that moved in next door. Her worries became heightened after talking with friends that the men may be seeking revenge. She asked the chat if they thought her life was in danger, “Yes, they said, come.”

Glenda Vásquez, a childhood friend, came along with Jackelin to San Salvador where they met up with Miguel. They made a pact to make it together. After they rode a bus to Salvador del Mundo’s central plaza where people all sat eating and gathering supplies the day before they headed to the Guatemalan border. The friends decided to enjoy the last pupusas before they left with the 1,500 other people in the morning.

On the bus heading towards the Mexico border, Los Tigres del Norte’s “Tres Veces Mojado” played reminding them of their cultural plight and strength.

Cuando me vine de mi tierra el salvador
Con la intención de llegar a estados unidos
Sabia que necesitaría más que valor
Sabía que a lo mejor quedaba en el camino
Son 3 fronteras las que tuve que cruzar
Por tres países anduve indocumentado
Tres veces tuve yo la vida que arriesgar
Por eso dicen que soy 3 veces mojado

En Guatemala y México cuando cruce
Dos veces me salve me hicieran prisionero
El mismo idioma y el color reflexionen
Como es posible que me llamen extranjero

This situation is not new to the Latinx imagination. Our theory, activism, and cultural strength are rooted in the migration stories of our progenitors. Yet, the caravans from Central America have once again exposed how Mexican sentiment, legislation, and law enforcement are just as complicit in marginalizing those that migrate into their nation.

The friends banded together easily crossed and travel through Guatemala without a visa. The real test comes at the Southern Mexican border where two weeks earlier the Honduran caravan was met with tear gas and rubber bullets. Thousands were not allowed in and had to cross a river into Mexico. When Glenda, Jackelin, and Miguel arrived at the border, they waited and eventually allowed to come into Mexico with a temporary visa. But to take the visa route, they must remain in Mexico for 1 year and in a shelter for the first 45 days where they would be separated by gender. The friends ended up crossing the river instead of taking the visas. As they stepped on the Mexican river shore, their next stop was 8 hours away.

Oscar Alfonso Mejía

Strochlic, N. (2018, November 9). Follow three best friends crossing into Mexico with the migrant caravan. Retrieved April 9, 2019, from Culture & History website: