Carlos Castellanos was half a mile from the border, sitting on a park bench just a few blocks away from the Guatemalan end of the bridge over the Suchiate River into Mexico. Castellanos is one of the more than 11,000 Hondurans to make the collective northbound trek in the second half of January, and he does not expect the exodus to stop.
“Two years from now, Honduras is going to be left without people,” he told Truthout, watching fellow Central American migrants and refugees trickle into town.
Castellanos is a welder by trade, but jobs were scarce in Honduras. To support his wife and two teenage children, he ran a little corner store out of the family’s home in San Pedro Sula, the country’s second largest city. But between the high cost of food, high school fees and expenses, and hundreds of dollars in water and electricity bills, they struggled to make ends meet.
“Everything has been so privatized,” said Castellanos. “Honestly in Honduras people can no longer live.”
The cost of living was enough of an uphill battle, but Castellanos also had to contend with extortion by criminal groups. The payments they demanded were often more than he made from his store, and non-payment can have fatal consequences. Castellanos took out an informal loan to cover the extortion, but then became subject to more threats of violence when he had trouble making the loan payments.
“I had been planning to leave for a month, because if I stayed any longer in Honduras, they were going to kill me,” he said.
While thousands of migrants and refugees flee violence, unemployment, poverty and political persecution in Honduras, political turmoil continues to engulf the country. Nationwide protests against the government erupted on January 27, the first anniversary of the inauguration of Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández’s controversial second term after his 2017 re-election was consolidated by the US government despite widespread reports of election fraud. The protests and…