The World Today for July 13, 2022

NEED TO KNOW

Still They Come

CENTRAL AMERICA

Fernando José Redondo Caballero, 19, and Alejandro Miguel Andino Caballero, 22, could “barely contain their excitement” about migrating from Honduras to the United States, the Daily News wrote. One had almost completed his degree in business. The other had an economics degree. Yet neither could find jobs or career opportunities in their Central American country.

Both were found recently among 53 dead migrants in a hot tractor-trailer without air conditioning or water in Texas. American authorities have charged four men with “alien smuggling resulting in death,” as the US Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Texas said. The smugglers have a history of drug use and problems with the law, the Texas Tribune added.

The gruesome episode highlights how the Central American migrant crisis is still hot.

Almost half of all Hondurans want to leave their country in order to find better economic opportunities and governments where officials respect human rights and aren’t corrupt, according to a World Justice Product poll cited in Border Reports. The poll described bribes as being necessary to obtain government services like birth certificates or a seat in a public school, for example.

It is no different in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua, where economic conditions, gang violence and environmental disasters worsened during the pandemic, forcing some to take on a long and perilous journey north, the BBC reported.

Meanwhile, in May, the US saw the largest number of migrants arrested or encountered along the southern border since officials began counting in 2000, statistics released by the border agency showed.

Speaking to the Guardian, Maria Rodriguez, whose name was changed to protect her identity, said gangs in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa pushed her out of her home after killing her sister. She didn’t understand why they targeted her, just that they had decided that they wanted her property and law enforcement was too corrupt or inept to help.

In a letter to Honduran President Xiomara Castro, who assumed office earlier this year, Human Rights Watch recently called on the government to launch a series of reforms to improve human rights in the country. Castro, incidentally, is the wife of Manuel Zelaya, who was president until the military ousted him in a US-backed coup in 2009. She won in late 2021 on a platform of social justice and transparency, the BBC reported.

Lingering corruption and higher energy and food prices have made Castro’s job tough, however, noted Americas Quarterly. Ditto for the more dictatorial leaders of Nicaragua and El Salvador.

But Castro and others in the region will have to do a lot more to stop the caravans heading north.

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