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Understanding the Migrant Caravan

November 29, 2018 — Better known as Padre Melo, Fr. Ismael Moreno, SJ, is the director of the Honduran Jesuit radio station, Radio Progreso, and the Honduran Jesuit social action center. He has published an analysis about the migrant caravan that left Honduras some weeks ago. His key insights on the situation:

Fr. Ismael Moreno, SJ speaks at Radio Progreso

Who is behind it?

It is not just a caravan. It is a social phenomenon led by thousands of impoverished rural and urban settlers that manifests itself in large and massive spontaneous and improvised caravans, with no more organization than the one that has taught the basics of survival and the manifest decision to go north to reach the USA.

The caravan has been happening every day, and surely in less than a month the number of people who have been leaving is comparable to those who joined the massive exit in a single day. This daily caravan has been silent, dry, discreet, private, invisible and even shameful.

Characteristics that help interpret this mass exodus

First factor: extreme dependence on the outside. Looking outside of the country for the answers and solutions to solve needs and problems.

It is a spontaneous movement to go in search of the promised land, it is a desperate defense of the country of consumption and of "the land of bread to carry", as the Honduran poet Rafael Heliodoro Valle once said. It is not a massive anti-system movement. It is an intra-system avalanche of the dispossessed people who continue stubbornly to look up, to the north, for the dream that they have lived as a nightmare in Honduras.

These starving migrants do not know that their initiative is shaking the system; what they do is to look in the center of the system for an answer to their needs and problems.

Second factor: a society trapped in the struggle to survive.

The mass exodus of Hondurans has no organization other than the mutual protection offered by traveling in a group but still it is just a group of individuals searching for a new life in another country, in the country of the north.

Everyone protests against the government, but when it comes to looking for common solutions, the default is to let others do so. The massive exit to the north reveals that people still do not put trust in others and the community.

It is an expressed rejection towards the organization, towards the political parties and towards institutions of any sort. The massive exit is the failure of any kind of public response, and the resounding triumph of an individualistic reaction.

Third factor: a society that opts for the vertical relationship in detriment of horizontal relationships. People look to “go up”, to the north and upwards. The mirage of the migrants is focused upwards and outwards. They stopped looking to their sides, everyone walks, advances with their own steps forward, without seeing who is at their side. It is the syndrome of the "banana republic" seeded by the Americans and leaving them left waiting and enthralled for the return of the white people.

It is the paradigm of power, of the patriarch, of the “caudillo” in the Honduran case. The caudillo is expected to solve ones’ personal or family problem; the leader who solves problems in exchange for loyalty.

He invites the international community, as well as North American social movements to listen attentively to the migrants, to be aware of their suffering, despair and demands. He also calls for dialogue and for the mobilization of transnational social movements to counteract the xenophobic and anti-migrant discourse, and to denounce the machinations of the Honduran and American governments. He also invites these same social movements to support and welcome the migrants at each stage of their continental trek.

[Source: Jesuits of Canada]





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