The figures of human trafficking to the United States, where thousands of migrants from Central and South America, shaken by poverty and violence, intend to reach, show that it has already become a sinister industry that leaves millionaire profits to criminal gangs.
The latest data from the Immediate Action Group (GAI), an entity created by the governments of the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras and the Dominican Republic, reveal that trafficking organizations collectively obtain about $ 14 billion a year.
These “coyote” organizations, also known in Mexico as “polleros” or “enganchadores,” are considered to earn higher profits than drug traffickers.
A recent investigation carried out by the GAI as a result of the accident of a trailer truck in the Mexican region of Chiapas on December 9, which left 56 dead, was able to verify the amounts that are being charged to migrants for transferring them in inhumane conditions until the crossing with the United States: a trip from Guatemala, for example, It costs $ 6,000, while the trip from Ecuador reaches 15,000.
Haitian migrants line up to register at the shelter in Darien, Panama. Photo EFE
An extreme sum for families that give up any possession in order to reach the United States, where they intend to start a new life, away from poverty, violence and despair in their countries.
The migratory phenomenon has been overwhelmed in Mexico, reflecting the inability to address the problem by the authorities. The government has garnered enormous criticism for its treatment of migrants and the current deployment of tens of thousands of members of the Armed Forces to the northern and southern borders for control tasks, as part of cooperation on immigration matters with the United States.
Some analysts attribute to the great vigilance of the authorities of certain migratory routes the fact that many foreigners are now looking for new routes and routes, often more dangerous, to cross the country, something that is taken advantage of by the “coyote” organizations.
The region is undoubtedly experiencing an unprecedented migration crisis. Mexican authorities have intercepted 228,115 migrants and deported to 82,627 from January to October 2021, numbers not seen in more than 15 years. In addition, 123,000 migrants have requested refuge in the first eleven months of 2021 in Mexico, another absolute record, since in previous years there were some 40,000 requests.
The crossing of the Rio Grande, between Mexico and the United States. Reuters photo
The reestablishment of the American program “Stay in Mexico”, that forces foreigners to wait in Mexico while a court evaluates their asylum application, has been met with enormous disappointment and concern among the migrant community and activists.
The trips organized by human traffickers are outrageous and last up to two days. Despite covering hundreds of kilometers, they are seldom detected by the police.
“I thank God that he brought us alive, because it’s a nightmare to come in those trailers“says the Honduran Cecilia Hernández, 39, in a shelter on the border of Ciudad Juárez (northern Mexico), where she arrived after being deported in November from the United States.
Cecilia’s case is emblematic. It reflects what many Central Americans live. She was deported twice from the United States in November after entering illegally from Reynosa (Tamaulipas, northeast), where she arrived with three children, ages 2, 4 and 16, in a crowded truck.
“A lot of people fainted, the children too. Many people undressed because we were drowning “from the heat, says the woman in the bunk where she sleeps.
The trip lasted two days. “They pressed us like animals, locked up. There was air (conditioning), but then it was turned off and everyone wanted to go out, but they couldn’t. There you are as a kidnapped person,” he says. The “anguish” was such that his son and other passengers began to make holes in the cabin to breathe.
Then they were abandoned in a desert area where they spent three nights, said the woman, who has two other children in the United States since 2019 who have paid thousands of dollars to the “coyotes” so that the rest of the family can pass. The 16-year-old crossed only recently.
Another reflection of the tragedy that the region is suffering are the migrant caravans, groups of people who go out together to confront the authorities and elude the coyote gangs.
Since the phenomenon began in the fall of 2018, various contingents have tried to reach the northern Mexican border, the majority starting from Central America.
In September there were four caravan attempts that were thwarted by the authorities a few kilometers after leaving Tapachula, a Mexican municipality on the border with Guatemala.
But a month and a half ago a caravan left from the same point that, after more than a thousand kilometers, is about to arrive in the capital of the country, where they will seek to regularize the situation.
This contingent began as several thousand foreigners and now, exhausted after the long journey, it is only several hundred.
Source: EFE, AFP and AP