La Caravana Del Diablo 2020

Ada Trillo


Mexico; Guatemala; Honduras

In January of 2020, fleeing violence and poor economic conditions, Hondurans organized a massive migrant caravan that traveled through Guatemala into Mexico. After traveling for 8 days the caravan crossed the Suchiate River into Mexico and were met by the recently established Guardia Nacional comprised of former Federal, Military and Naval Police.

Mexican President, Andrés Manual López Obrador has historically called for safe passage for migrants, but when US President Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs, Mexico reversed its policy and deployed soldiers to keep central American migrants from entering Mexico.

Migrants attempting to enter Mexico split into two major groups. The largest group crossed the Suchiate River and were tear gassed by the Guardia Nacional. Forced to retreat they waited by the river's edge for two days. Their second attempt across the river (at four in the morning) was a success but it was only hours later that the Guardia Nacional surrounded them, put them on busses and sent them back to Honduras.

The smaller group amassed in the border town of Tecün Umån in Guatemala and were met by Julio Cesar Sanchez Amaya the head of foreign relations in Mexico. He welcomed migrants in groups of 10 to enter Mexico and seek asylum. Migrants were briefly kept in detention centers and against Julio’s word they were deported back to Honduras without given the opportunity to seek asylum.

Trump has effectively barred asylum seekers from entering the US by threatening to impose tariffs and cut foreign aid to Central American countries. The human cost of Trump’s political agenda is denying people their fundamental human rights. For many asylum seekers, deportation will result in living a life of extortion, impoverishment and even death. The full effect of Trump's xenaphobic policies toward immigrants and asylum seekers will no doubt be felt for generations to come.

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  • Starting Out, January 2020 The migrant caravan leaves Honduras and begins their trek to the Guatemalan-Mexican Border. An estimated 4,000 people left San Pedro Sula on January 15th and walked over 500 miles in a week before being captured and deported. The caravan split into two groups. 800 members traveled to the border of El Ceibo and Tabasco, Mexico to try and cross, while the larger group went to the border of Tecún Uman and Chiapas, Mexico.

  • Families Stay Together, January 2020 Migrant families squeeze onto vehicles to get a ride to the next town on their journey, sometimes 2 or 3 families at a time. Unfortunately, it's a dangerous way to travel, as many migrants are reported to fall off of these over packed vehicles and suffer serious injury.

  • Worship, January 2020. Early in the morning in El Ceibo, Guatemala, before starting their journey, men pray in unison that God will grant them safe passage north to the US. They pray for God to change the hearts of the Mexican and US government leaders. Their first prayer is Our Father.

  • Ashley, El Ceibo, Guatemala, January 2020. Ashley is a 27-year-old trans woman from Honduras. She left her country because her life was in danger after she received threats on her life. Honduras has one of the highest murder rates in the world for members of the LGBTQ+ community.

  • Casa del Migrante, January 2020 Male migrants from Honduras wait for their turn to eat at La Casa Del Migrante, a Catholic run shelter in Guatemala. Most Catholic shelters separate men from women, children, and trans. El Ceibo, Guatemala.

  • On Their Knees, January 2020 At the border of El Ceibo, Guatemala, a caravan of migrants plead, on their knees, with the Mexican authorities to open the gates to Mexico.

  • Ariana Elisabeth is five months old and the youngest in the caravan; her parents are escaping life-threatening gang activity in Honduras. Next to them is a Guatemalan border guard.

  • Families Waiting in Guatemala, 18 January 2020. Migrant families wait patiently at the gates of the border crossing between Guatemala and Mexico. More than 600 people had crowded together since the early hours of the morning after accepting the deal handed out by the Mexican federal government, which offered to regularise the immigration conditions of the newcomers and give them work in the state of Tabasco, in exchange for abandoning the purpose of reaching the US and remaining in Mexican territory. These promises were false as the majority of people were deported back to Honduras.

  • The Gate to Mexico, January 2020 This is the Border of El Ceibo, Guatemala and Tabasco, Mexico. For days the migrants of the caravan had been pleading with the Mexican Government to be allowed passage into the country. This is a view from the gate where they were finally allowed to enter in groups of ten.

  • Tricked Into Deportation. After travelling for days, about 1,000 members of the caravan set up in front of the gate at Mexican customs at the remote border between El Ceibo, in the department of Petén, and the Mexican state of Tabasco. The people pleaded with the authorities to open the gates. Eventually, officials allowed passage to small groups. The travellers then boarded busses that passed the National Institute of Migration. They were promised a “secure location” to prepare their migration paperwork and offer them work. Unfortunately, the migrants and asylum seekers wound up in inhospitable migratory detention centres. They were denied phones and separated from their families. Recently, the López Obrador administration announced its intention to deport most of them.

  • Sleeping By the River, January 2020 A one year old boy, Elan, sleeps on top of a sack by the river. He is traveling with his 4 year old sister and their parents. His parents are running away from death threats in their home town. The caravan is being blocked at the Suchiate River by the Mexican Government and the migrants are forced to set up camp on the Guatemalan side. Little Elan must be stripped of his clothes by his mother before he can be comfortable enough to sleep in the brutal 88 degree heat.

  • Crossing the Suchiate River, 23 January, 2020. People cross the Suchiate River as they enter Mexico from Guatemala. Two days before, the Mexican government teargassed a group of 500 people who had arrived at the border and attempted to wade across the river into Mexico. Despite the event, the caravan persisted. Out of desperation, they tried crossing the river again. This time they succeeded and pushed forward several miles into Mexico.

  • Joel crosses the Suchiate River, January 2020. On January 23, 2020 the Migrant Caravan successfully crossed the Suchiate River from Guatemala to Mexico. Having traveled across two countries in eight days, a Honduran Migrant with one leg makes his way across the river with crutches, trying to keep up with the caravan.

  • Crossing the Suchiate River, January 2020 Migrants from Honduras cross the second leg of the Suchiate River, as they pass through Guatemala to Mexico. Two days prior, the Mexican Government tear gassed a group of 500 migrants who arrived at the Border and attempted to wade across the river into Mexico. Despite the event, the caravan persisted. Out of desperation they tried crossing the river again. This time they succeeded and pushed forward several miles into Mexico.

  • Barbed Wire Fences at the Border, January 2020, After sleeping in a wasteland by the Guatemala/Mexico border, José, a six-year-old travelling with his father from Honduras, is waiting to start his journey once more into Mexico via the Suchiate River at 3am. Two days before, the caravan attempted to cross into Mexican territory via the Suchiate River, and the Mexican National Guard – carrying semi-automatic rifles – mobilised, trying to target the groups and detaining people where they could. There were pushes and struggles to persuade migrants not to cross illegally. Many people were apprehended at the river; others, such as José and his father, managed to escape.

  • Marina, January 2020 The Mexican Marines surround the caravan and halt their journey north. They tear gassed migrants, including women and children, as they arrived at the Border. This is the newly formed Guardia Nacional, established in 2019 and deployed to the border because of Trump's tariffs on Mexican goods.

  • Almost There, January 2020 Chelita clings to her mother amidst the chaos of migrants waiting to be admitted into Mexico. After days of waiting at the border Julio César Sánchez, The Director General of Special Affairs for the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Government of Mexico, appeared as a representative of the Mexican Government and began allowing families to enter in small groups, after making ambiguous promises that didn't apply to all members of the caravan. He never said what would happen to the families or where they would be taken.

  • The Migrant Caravan, January 2020. An estimated 4,000 people left San Pedro Sula on 15 January and walked more than 500km a week. The caravan split into two groups: 800 members travelled to the border of El Ceibo and Tabasco, Mexico, while the larger group went to the border of Tecún Uman and Chiapas, Mexico.

  • Tear Gassed, January 2020 Upon arriving at the Mexican/Guatemalan Border, roughly 800 migrants managed to cross onto Mexican soil and walk several miles to Frontera Hidalgo. It was here that hundreds of troops descended upon the caravan and forcibly herded many onto buses with the use of tear gas and riot shields. Women and children were caught in the chaos, many suffering chemical burns and other serious injuries.

  • On My Way, January 2020 One member of the migrant caravan carries a United States flag to demonstrate his enthusiasm to become an American citizen. When conditions in your homeland are so dangerous that you are willing to pick up a new flag and start a new life in a country you don't know, it produces a mixture of desperation and hope that won't be dissuaded by tear gas and riot shields.