Hundreds of African migrants have taken part in a series of protests in Tapachula, a Mexican town near the border with Guatemala, since August 18. The protesters, who have been trapped in the town for weeks, are demanding documents so they can travel north to the United States and Canada. Due to pressure from the United States, Mexico has been cracking down on migrants.
Increasing numbers of Africans migrants are choosing to cross the Atlantic instead of the Mediterranean to reach the United States or Canada by travelling through South and Central America. The journey is expensive, long and dangerous.
Drug and human traffickers frequent the route. At certain points in the journey, there are even poisonous animals pose (especially in the jungled Darién Gap, located on the border between Colombia and Panama).
But for the past few months, many of these migrants have faced another obstacle. Changes to Mexican migration policy have left many stuck in southern Mexico, unable to continue their travels to the north.
So several hundreds of them started to protest on August 18, in front of the 21th century migrant holding facility (“Estación Migratoria Siglo XXI” in Spanish), which is run by the National Institute of Migration, a unit of the Mexican government that controls and supervises migration in the country, in Tapachula, Chiapas state.
Those who joined in the protests were from many different countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Senegal, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Angola and Somalia.
On Tuesday August 20th, Mexican security forces tried to clear out the protesters in front of Tapachula’s Siglo XXI Shelter and arrested several men, who were later released. On Wednesday August 21st, there was a surge in tensions after security officers also harassed women and children taking part in the protests.