Why are central Americans migrating?
June 5, 2019 12:50 PM   Subscribe

What is happening down there to cause people to flee?

Could someone please share a news source(s) that would keep me up to date on what is happening in Guatemala and other southern countries that causes their citizens to migrate to the US?
Currently I read Asia Times to get some idea of what's happening in the east.
posted by Mesaverdian to Society & Culture (11 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

Vox has a series of explainers; here's The border is in crisis. Here’s how it got this bad.

Part that directly addresses your question:
"...it’s often hard to determine a single reason that a given migrant is leaving — much less a group of hundreds of them, or a monthly flow of tens of thousands. The same people facing dire poverty can also be persecuted by their governments for their political views; someone might decide to leave because their crops are failing, but decide when to leave based on a threat to their lives.

The most pressing problem in Honduras and El Salvador continues to be violence, specifically gang violence. (El Salvador has reduced its homicide rate substantially, and migration to the US has sharply declined since last summer.) ...

Guatemala, which has seen the biggest increase in emigration to the US in the current surge, is generally more beset by crushing poverty than gang violence. (Domestic violence is endemic in all three countries.) Poverty (no matter how dire) isn’t grounds to seek asylum. But it’s hard to disentangle the poverty of the Guatemalan highlands from concerns about the government’s treatment of indigenous peoples, or the poor situation of the region’s farmers from oppression of community and environmental activists challenging the government’s land use policies."
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 1:09 PM on June 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Here's a documentary from France24 broadcast earlier this year, in English: “A life of exile: How drought is forcing Hondurans to flee to US”; it discusses causes other than environmental ones as well.
posted by XMLicious at 1:34 PM on June 5, 2019

Best answer: US failure to respond to migration surge has created chaos (Guardian) "And there is no sign that the mass exodus is likely to end soon. Most of the current wave of migrants come from three small Central American countries – El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – where migration is driven by a a toxic mix of violence, poverty, food insecurity, climate change, political instability and corruption. Violence perpetrated by drug traffickers, street gangs and state security forces have made this region, known as the Northern Triangle, the most dangerous place in the world outside an official war zone."

Central America’s Violent Northern Triangle (CFR)
Backgrounder by Rocio Cara Labrador and Danielle Renwick

Why are so many migrants crossing the U.S. border? It often starts with an escape from violence in Central America (NBC News)

Organised violence is ravaging Central America and displacing thousands (Robert Muggah, Guardian)

Refugee crisis grows in Central America as women 'run for their lives' (Reuters/Guardian)
Women and children are increasingly fleeing gang violence in Mexico and Central America in hopes of reaching the US, says new UNHCR report
posted by Little Dawn at 1:49 PM on June 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nicaragua. I'd say dire, inescapable poverty is the #1 reason- Nicaragua doesn't have gang violence like El Salvador and Honduras, but it does have an oppressive government. It's the second poorest country in the Western hemisphere, behind Haiti. People would absolutely love the opportunity to migrate legally but it's just not an option for huge numbers of impoverished farmers.
posted by emd3737 at 2:15 PM on June 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Thought of this question when I read this Nicholas Kristof piece this morning.
posted by veggieboy at 3:36 AM on June 6, 2019

I am not an expert, but as I understand it and to bring some of the above together: climate change -> drought -> decreased agricultural yield and profitability -> migration to cities -> rapid unsupported population growth -> conflict and violence.
posted by chiquitita at 5:42 AM on June 6, 2019

climate change -> drought -> decreased agricultural yield and profitability -> migration to cities -> rapid unsupported population growth -> conflict and violence

I also believe: climate change -> drought -> decreased agricultural yield and profitability -> switch to more "profitable" crops -> organized crime involvement -> conflict and violence.
posted by Twinge at 1:07 PM on June 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

‘I Can No Longer Continue to Live Here’ (Politico Magazine)
What’s driving so many Honduran women to the U.S. border? The reality is worse than you’ve heard.
posted by Little Dawn at 10:59 AM on June 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you all for your informative responses.
Good to see that various news sources are writing about it.
Just wish this was all in the minds of the US government.
posted by Mesaverdian at 12:17 PM on June 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

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