x

Society

Small Town in Southern Mexico Hosts Thousands of Migrants

October 18, 2022

MEXICO CITY — As migrants, especially Venezuelans, struggle to come to terms with a new U.S. policy discouraging border crossings, one small town in southern Mexico is unexpectedly playing host to thousands of migrants camped far from the U.S. border.

San Pedro Tapanatepec had 7,000 migrants, about 75% Venezuelans, when The Associated Press visited at the beginning of October. By Monday, Mayor Humberto Parrazales estimated the number had grown to 14,000. The AP could not independently verify that figure.

While many Venezuelans had planned to make their way to the U.S. border, the new U.S. policy says only those applying online, and arriving by air, will be admitted. Border crossers will simply be expelled. That leaves many camped out in five large tent shelters wondering what they’ll do next.

They while away the sweltering day with just a few electric fans to cut the heat.

San Pedro Tapanatepec is obviously not where they wanted to wind up. The heat-drenched town in Oaxaca state is only about 180 miles (300 kilometers) from the border with Guatemala. Many of the migrants had thought they left Guatemala behind forever on the long trek that took many of them from the Darian Gap in Panama, through Central America to Mexico.

Migrants, mostly from Venezuela, arrive at a camp where Mexican authorities will arrange permits for their continued travel north, in San Pedro Tapanatepec, Oaxaca, Mexico Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

Since August, the town has served as a way station where migrants would wait for a few days while Mexican immigration authorities issued them a sort of transit pass that gave them time to make it to the U.S. border.

But Parrazales said the flow of that paperwork has slowed down, leaving many more migrants waiting here in an impoverished town ill-equipped to play host to so many people.

“I don’t understand anything,” Venezuelan migrant Robinson Rodríguez said by phone from Tapanatepec. “If everything at the border is closed, then they shouldn’t be handing out these (transit) passes. And if you ask (the authorities), they say they don’t know, but they keep handing them out.”

Time is not on the migrants’ side. Rodríguez had actually received a seven-day transit document, which basically required him to leave Mexico within a week. But he had to spend time raising the money to pay for transport to the northern border, and by the time he got it, his pass had expired.

Confusion reigns. Nicaraguan migrant Luis Martinica showed a leaflet containing the web link for Venzuelans to apply, but it was confusing; if he, as a Nicaraguan, showed up at the U.S. border, would he too be expelled?

Mayor Parrazales has his own set of worries. The town’s transformers can no longer handle the electricity needed for the camp, and there have been partial blackouts. Health care, sanitation and water are also problems.

Migrants, mostly from Venezuela, arrive at a camp where Mexican authorities will arrange permits for their continued travel north, in San Pedro Tapanatepec, Oaxaca, Mexico Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

Still, migrants have to pay for most things, and Parrazales acknowledges the town has seen about $15 million in extra business selling migrants food, places to sleep, medicine, taxi and bus rides. “They have to pay to charge cell phones,” he notes.

Mexico has issued about 77,000 transit passes to Venezuelans so far this year, most of them in the last three months. Like Nicaraguans and Cubans, Venezuelans are hard to deport, both for Mexico and the United States.

Mexico’s National Immigration Institute did not respond to requests by the AP about how the camp will be managed after the new U.S. program. In the face of the lack of official information, rumors and tensions run high.

Martinica, the Nicaraguan immigrant, says officials stopped issuing passes for a while “after a dispute in which some Venezuelans offended a police officer.”

“There is a big lack of information,” Parrazales said. “This is a pressure cooker I’m trying to contain here.”

 

RELATED

NEW YORK — Twelve news organizations on Sunday urged presumptive presidential nominees Joe Biden and Donald Trump to agree to debates, saying they were a “rich tradition” that have been part of every general election campaign since 1976.

Top Stories

Columnists

A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

Video

Evzones March in the Rain to Greek Flag Raising at Bowling Green in NYC (VIDEO)

NEW YORK – The heavy rain did not deter the Hellenic Presidential Guard, the Evzones, and the participants in the march from St.

ATHENS - Socialist PASOK leader Nikos Androulakis is keeping up a fusillade of criticism at Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, this time challenging him for a debate ahead of the elections for European Parliament in June.

ATHENS - Trying to further wean off a 19th-Century source for energy - coal - Greece is moving more toward solar but it’s wind turbines on islands that have some environmentals anxious over the impact.

ATHENS - Frenchman Baron Pierre de Coubertin so had his heart set in the modern Olympic Games that he created, the first in Athens in 1896, that when he died he had his heart buried near the spot where the ancient games were held, in Olympia.

After the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA stymied a gold mine operation and was often anti-business, Greece’s Deputy Environment and Energy Minister Alexandra Sdoukou said the New Democracy government wants more mining.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. [email protected]

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.