A group of over 1,000 Hondurans are marching north, towards Mexico and the United States, with hopes to migrate.
The group is currently approaching the border with Guatemala. They decided to leave Honduras months after Vice President Mike Pence met with the Honduran president. Most of them are fed up with the violence and poverty that has plagued their country, led by a government impotent to act on crime, reported ABC News.
“There’s a misery and a violence that is overwhelming people. People no longer have faith in this country, and they are fleeing,” said Dunia Montoya, a volunteer helping the group, via ABC.
The group plans to stop in Mexico, either to request refugee status or a visa to pass through to the U.S. border.
“There are thousands of Honduran men and women who have died in Mexico. We don’t want anymore deaths. We don’t want anyone else to be mutilated,” said the group’s organizer, Bartolo Fuentes. “So [we’ve come] together, not to bring undocumented people into Mexico, but to demand the Mexican government to give refuge to all these people who can no longer live in Honduras and who can’t wait and hope for things to get better. And we want, please, for them to give us the opportunity for refuge and to make a life.”
In 2017, ABC reported that Honduras has the highest rate of females being murders in the world. Much of the crimes against women go unreported for fear of retaliation or remains without investigation. The crimes often involve gangs.
“There are no jobs. There’s nothing here. And our kids, even the little ones, are scared there are maras [gang members] and sometimes they come and destroy everything, and they see it all,” said Lesby Karina Ramos, who is traveling with the group along with her husband and two children.
In 2017, the 19-year-old crowned Miss Honduras, María José Alvarado was murdered before she could fly to London for the Miss World competition. Her 23-year-old sister, Sofia Trinidad, was also murdered, ABC reported.
The two were at a birthday party for Trinidad’s boyfriend before he shot her and then turned his gun on Alvarado as she tried to run. Their bodies were discovered after a week-long manhunt. Locals believe the only reason the authorities paid attention was because Alvarado was well-known.
“He shot her 12 times in the back,” said Teresa Muñoz, describing the murder of her daughter Maria Jose Alvarado, via ABC. “Here in Honduras, women aren’t worth anything.”
Vice President Pence Speaks on Illegal Migration
In June, Vice President Pence went to Guatemala and gave a joint press statements with the presidents of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, aimed at curbing a wave of illegal migration.
Pence addressed people in the three nations on the topic of coming to the United States, according to a White House transcript.
“You are our neighbors. We want you and your nations to prosper. If you want to come to the United States, come legally or don’t come at all,” said Pence. If someone tells you they can bring you or your children to America outside the law, don’t believe them. Don’t risk your lives or the lives of your children by coming to the United States on the road run by drug smugglers and human traffickers.”
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