Thousands of Central American brothers and sisters face different challenges every day as they cross foreign territories in search of a better life and to realize a dream–to support their loved ones and help their children get ahead.
Text and Photos by Mauricio Cáceres
Correspondent for El Salvador and Latin América for Latina Republic
For many Salvadorans and Central Americans, the journey along the migrant route begins in their countries of origin and continues by crossing Guatemalan and Mexican land. Many of them start their long walks in Tenosique, the border between Guatemala and Mexico.
The shoes and personal belongings they carry are not enough for the long journey ahead.
In the Zapatista area, on Mexican soil, they walk up to two hundred kilometers to reach their first shelter. The hot asphalt melts the soles of their shoes and this injures their feet.
Along this concrete road many vehicles pass, but it is forbidden for drivers to give them a ride because they can be accused of illegal trafficking of people, according to the laws of Mexico.
They are often aided by the Comité Internacional de la Cruz Roja, CICR (International Committee of the Red Cross, CICR), which gives them water, heals the wounds on their feet, provides them with medicine, and gives them food so that they can continue on their way.
The CICR even provides them with satellite telephone calls so that they can call their families. Members of the CICR cannot take migrants in their vehicles, either, because this is not allowed.
It is important to highlight that the things that the migrants carry are vitally important to them, since they bring extra shoes, water, clothes and a belt inside their backpacks to defend themselves in case of an assault. Others carry cigarettes and water.
With great love, they pack photographs of their children, husbands and wives. They also tattoo their chest or any part of their body with drawings of their family or their names.
Many cry while they tell their story of why they are leaving, and some keep small pieces of paper where their children have written words of encouragement.
Everything they carry with them is important because each item has a significance.
The backpack is very useful. They use it to keep food they receive along the way, as well as clothes, shoes, their documents, and other personal items.
When they pass through the shelters, migrants are searched as part of strict security measures because many carry knives for self-protection on the journey.
A pair of footwear is not enough to make it all the way. When they stop by the shelters, they request shoes to continue their journey. The shelters provide them with food, medical attention, clothing, shoes, and coats for the low temperatures and are only allowed to stay for three days to rest and then they have to leave. These are the rules, which allow temporary shelters to assist with the ongoing flow of migrants.
Other belongings that migrants carry with them are telephones, flags of their country, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, and underclothing.
Thank you to the Comité Internacional de la Cruz Roja, CICR (International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC) and the Cruz Roja de México (Mexican Red Cross) for their invaluable contributions along the migrant route.
Mauricio Alexander Cáceres García is a Correspondent for Latina Republic focused on El Salvador and Latin America. He is a renowned Photojournalist and Documentarian from El Salvador. Migration is personal to him. His father and family moved to the United States as migrants. His work showcases the power of human stories. Among his specializations, Cáceres has reported on “The migrant route” of the Guatemalan border, Mexico and the United States. He personally completed the migrant route to the US on four occasions. Cáceres has a degree in Migration from the Universidad de Centro América, UCA. Cáceres has served as an Editor of the newspaper Más, EDH and elsalvador.com. He has extensive experience in national and international news coverage, studied journalism and has won several photography awards throughout Latin America, including second place in a photographic contest centered on the migrant woman, and earning the Santa Clara de Asís prize for his report on the migrant route.