Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas (AFP) – A caravan made up of 50 parents of disappeared Central American migrants departed on Friday Nov. 15th from Mexico’s southern border for a cross-country journey in search of their missing relatives.
This is the fifteenth time the Mesoamerican Migration Movement (MMM), a non-government organization, has set up a caravan to travel across Mexico in search of migrants who entered the country and went missing.
Composed of 45 women and five men, the caravan entered Mexico’s southern Chiapas state through Guatemala and will travel some 3,100 miles (5,000 kilometers) to cities that undocumented Central Americans are known to pass through on their way to the United States.
“The missing migrants in Mexico are many. There are estimates of between 70,000 and 120,000 missing. Many are in mass graves, others in clandestine graves, others in morgues,” MMM leader Martha Sanchez told AFP.
“Others are hiding somewhere in Mexico, living more or less normal lives, working, but they have not been able to communicate with their families.”
The caravan will travel north through 13 states along the so-called Gulf of Mexico route until it reaches the northern city of Monterrey, searching for missing persons and sensitizing residents and authorities about the drama of those who traverse Mexico in search of better lives in the United States.
The journey will conclude on December 3, and four meetings between mothers and children are planned, including one in Monterrey.
“They are people that we located in the course of the year, and we invite their mothers to come so that they can meet again, because otherwise they could not see each other,” Sanchez explained.
Since the caravans started 15 years ago, the movement has located 310 migrants, she said.
The search effort involves visiting prisons and shelters in addition to displaying photographs of missing undocumented migrants in public places in hopes of finding clues to their whereabouts.
Migrants often lose touch with their families because they fear being persecuted by authorities, or lack resources to communicate.
The migration of Central Americans across Mexico to the US has ebbed and flowed, but worsened over the last year with the emergence of large northbound migrant caravans, which have strained relations between the two neighbors.
Under threat of tariffs from Washington, the Mexican government has deployed some 27,000 soldiers at its northern and southern borders since June, halting migrant flows.