Gerardo Cruz González“Hospitality is a concrete way of not depriving oneself of this challenge and this gift that is the encounter with humankind beyond one’s own group.” (Fratelli tutti, Pope Francis, #90)

At the height of the pandemic, at one of its most critical moments, the year hardly begun, more than seven thousand people are walking together from various parts of Central America to get to the United States.

That thousands of people are walking together the highways of three countries; that among those thousands of human beings there are boys, girls and adolescents walking who should be in a different social scenario; that they are doing it by facing governments that are incapable of being able to offer the least possibility for development; and that the people in the caravan are walking despite the fact that the world is living through a very aggressive moment of the pandemic, all speak to the fact that in this world we have done things very badly.

All of Central America is marked by poverty, social violence, the inefficiency of their governments and the economic dependency of these countries on the United States. Also, we should add to this picture the consequences of climate change and even the overexploitation of the land which have generated very violent meteorological events like the two hurricanes suffered mainly by Honduras.

It is no accident that the Central American migrant caravans have their origin precisely in Honduras. Politically it has a corrupt government supported by the United States and an evil economic system dominated by a dozen families who are the owners of everything in the country.

Human mobility is not the same for all human beings. The governments of the region, including Mexico, obey policies that attend to national security and the rights of the United States and not the fundamental rights of persons.

The organism which defends human rights in Guatemala, at the passage of the caravan of people fleeing poverty and violence, made a call for the people who made up the caravan not to obstruct the highways so that the right of free transit of people in automobiles could be respected. So, it is not only armies that are used to stop the caravan, but all the possible means available to the state.

While the Mexican government is preparing, using its usual rhetoric, to receive the caravan in Ciudad Hidalgo, at the border of Chiapas and Guatemala, with “open arms”, the National Guard is deployed in large number at the same border crossing. Those who manage to cross will be rounded up and will be called upon to begin the return journey. They will be confined in a jail which is euphemistically called “Migrant Station 21st Century” to finally be deported.

The proposals for a migration that is orderly, secure and regular can be used, paradoxically, to deny migratory transit that faces the risks that are implied by migrating in a time of pandemic. But the question is, when will there be conditions so that people who are fleeing such devastating social situations and climate disasters can see a way which is orderly, secure and regular?

On the other hand, the pandemic and the migrant caravans constitute an opportunity to offer hospitality, a concrete way of experiencing an encounter with humanity beyond one’s own group and interests.

Image by Wikimedia Commons

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Especialista en Doctrina Social de la Iglesia, es Académico investigador de IMDOSOC, coordina la Maestría en Pensamiento Social Cristiano de la Universidad Católica Lumen Gentium, profesor en la UIC y en la UCLG; ha sido invitado en la Universidad Antonianum de Roma en su curso anual sobre cuidado de la casa común y migración. Participa en los grupos de investigación sobre Fratelli Tutti de la división de Ciencias religiosas de la UIA de la Ciudad de México y en el equipo de investigación “Futuro del trabajo y cuidado de la casa común” de CLACSO; su más reciente publicación es la obra colaborativa En camino con los migrantes y refugiados, editado por PPC en 2020. Participa como miembro asesor en la RED CLAMOR de CELAM sobre migración, refugio y trata de personas.
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