Central America and migration

 

Sir, – Stephen Starr’s article about the migrant caravans (“Tijuana struggles as Honduras migrants try to cross into US”, World News, January 18th) explores the reality that is forcing people to leave their homes and also the fears being stoked about migrants.

People who have joined the caravan are fleeing countries characterised by instability, corruption, inequality and some of the worst violence seen outside of formal conflict zones. Several cities in Central America are among the most dangerous in the world. Millions of people in Honduras and Guatemala live without basic human rights, such as security, access to justice and equality of opportunity. Women, in particular, face appalling levels of violence. Each year thousands of women are murdered with total impunity.

Throughout the 46 years Trócaire has been in Central America, we have worked through civil wars, genocides, military coups and civil unrest. Much of the reason for this volatility has been the interference of the United States in the internal affairs of these countries. US foreign policy has treated Central America as a region to contain and control, irrespective of the impact on the people.

Donald Trump’s persistent attempts to characterise people from Central America as criminals and terrorists are appalling acts of racism that are completely ignorant of both the reality of life in Central America and the complex and often extremely negative relationship between the United States and its southern neighbours.

As an organisation working to get people access to land, access to justice and the ability to live in peace, we know only too well the real reasons why people are fleeing Central America.

The United States needs to respect the rights of people fleeing violence and acknowledge its own role in destabilising the region.

Rather than build walls and imprison children, the United States would be better off focusing on these underlying issues that are causing people to abandon their homes to walk thousands of miles in search of safety and basic rights. – Yours, etc,

CAOIMHE DE BARRA,

Chief Executive,

Trócaire,

Maynooth,

Co Kildare.