Mexico Migrant Caravan migrants

Hundreds of kilometers to go to the American Dream

Hundreds of kilometers to go to the American Dream

Story and Photos by Mauricio Cáceres
Correspondent for El Salvador and Latin América for Latina Republic

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.

 

Hundreds of kilometers to go to the American Dream
Various migrants stand in line to receive food in San Luis Potosí. “The shoe brand does not matter, what matters is that they hold up,” shared Alexander originally from Honduras. Photo by Mauricio Cáceres.

 

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.

 

Hundreds of kilometers to go to the American Dream
Many women walk along the route in flip flops. They are very careful. As soon as they get to a shelter they take care of their feet to be able to continue along their trip. Photo by Mauricio Cáceres.

 

The shoes and personal belongings they carry are not enough for the long journey ahead.

 

Hundreds of kilometers to go to the American Dream
Armando, of Salvadoran nationality, takes a break in his first station inside a shelter in Chiapas, Mexico. His personal belongings are on the floor. Photo by Mauricio Cáceres.

 

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.

 

Migrants who can’t take a backpack improvise by turning nylon sacks into bags to carry their belongings. Photo by Mauricio Cáceres.

 

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.

 

A migrant’s feet after traveling for more than 70 kilometers. Photo by Mauricio Cáceres.

 

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.

 

Women on the migrant route travel well prepared including taking along feminine products. Photo by Mauricio Cáceres.

 

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.

 

The cell phone is a very important tool for the migrant’s journey. From anywhere along the route, migrants communicate with their family members who wait for the calls at home. Photo by Mauricio Cáceres.

 

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.

 

Among the things that the migrants carry during the trip is a backpack with their personal things.Photo by Mauricio Cáceres.

 

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.

 

A handwritten note of Psalm 97, written and delivered by a family member of a migrant for his protection on the journey. Photo by Mauricio Cáceres.

 

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.

 

When they cross the desert, migrants leave behind the bottles of serum that serve to rehydrate themselves along the way, whether it is hot or not. Nogales is a step along the way for the compatriots. Photo by Mauricio Cáceres.

 

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.

 

In Sonora this young woman carries a flag of her country which she uses for identification along the journey. Photo by Mauricio Cáceres.

 

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

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.