Friday, December 14, 2018

Pueblo Sin Fronteras: The group behind the migrant caravan heading to the U.S.

As he stood among the mothers, children and LGBT youths who had been walking through Mexico on their way to the U.S. border, Rodrigo Abeja found it hard to believe that President Trump had deemed these people dangerous.

“About 80 percent of them are from Honduras,” Abeja said in Spanish in an interview with NBC News from Mexico “We have around 300 minors ranging from 1-month-old to 11-years-old. As of the rest of the people, we have about 20 youths who identify as LGBT and about 400 women.”

He is one of the lead organizers of Pueblo Sin Fronteras, which for over 15 years has led migrants to the U.S. via caravans to help them to seek asylum in other countries. The group’s volunteers help the migrants stay together to protect themselves from danger along the way, including from criminals and natural elements, but also to move past law enforcement officials.

The organization been unknown to most Americans until the president began tweeting on Easter about a caravan of people coming to the U.S. Abeja, who has been helping out with the caravans since 2013, said about 1,175 people were taking part in the caravan this year, with some fleeing gang violence in El Salvador and many more from Honduras than in previous years.

Abejas said the Hondurans in the caravan are fleeing the continuing political crisis and violence there that escalated in November with the election of President Juan Orlando Hernández. His election was seen as rigged and was followed by violent protests that were shut down with a military-enforced curfew.

“People are not leaving for economic reasons or to take advantage of a system in the U.S.,” said Daniella Burgi-Palomino, senior associate with the Latin American Working Group “They have real valid claims of fear of returning to the country. They don’t have access to justice. The refugee crisis from the Northern Triangle has not ended.”

NBC NEWS