A caravan made up of Mexican nationals traveled south, leaving the United States, in order to safely enter Mexico and visit family for the Christmas holiday.
A caravan of roughly 1,500 Mexican families convened at the southern Texas city of Laredo earlier this month and set off across the border, according to a report from Reuters. Unlike many of the high-profile caravans that travel north in order to enter the U.S., this large group traveled south, leaving the U.S. This caravan also differed from others in that, instead of being made up of individuals moving on foot, these south-bound travelers rode in large vehicles stuffed with clothes, Christmas presents, and other items, according to Reuters.
This south-bound caravan was similar to the others in just one major way: They believe there’s safety in numbers.
“There’s a lot of extortion, corruption, many people have been attacked,” Jesus Mendoza, a 35-year-old painter who recently earned U.S. legal residency, said to Reuters. “It’s a sad thing that some don’t want…to visit their family because of the situation,” he said.
The journey from Central America to the U.S.-Mexico border can be one of the most perilous on Earth. Stories of criminal gangs killing, extorting, and raping fleeing migrants is commonly reported in the media. Drug cartels in particular are well organized in the northern region of Mexico, making the last leg of the journey even more dangerous for asylum seekers. (RELATED: Border Patrol Agents Open Up Tractor Trailer, Find Over 70 Illegal Aliens Inside)
For many would-be illegal migrants who cannot afford to pay coyotes or other smuggling operations, they feel the safest form of travel is by caravan. The large groups are able to fend off potential attacks from drug cartels hoping to take advantage of them.
This was the same mindset for the thousands of Mexican travelers who legally traveled south to visit family for Christmas, entering the country’s extremely dangerous northern border regions.
“It’s sad that when I enter Mexico I don’t feel safe,” Mariela Ramirez Palacios, a Mexico-born resident of Oklahoma, told Reuters. “The caravan is safe.”
The Mexican government estimates that there have been more than 250,000 people murdered in cartel-related violence since 2006 — and the violence appears to be only getting worse. The homicide rate has risen to historical levels under President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, with well over 29,000 homicides in Mexico in 2019 so far, surpassing last year’s historic rate.
The country’s extreme violence grabbed the American citizenry’s attention after nine American nationals — six children and three women — were gruesomely gunned down by cartel members while they were simply driving through the northern region of the country in November. The violence has spurred U.S. lawmakers to label cartels as foreign terrorist organizations.
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