November 1, 2018 (Halifax) – On Saturday, November 3rd at 3pm community members in Halifax will gather at the Glitter Bean Cafe (5896 Spring Garden Road) to demonstrate their solidarity with the caravans of refugees and migrants currently en route to the US-Mexico border (Facebook event here). On October 12th, the first group of migrants and refugees – most of them from Honduras and many of them families – began making its way on foot to the US-Mexico border to escape a situation of widespread violence, poverty and government repression that has escalated since the 2009 coup, backed by the US and Canadian governments. This first caravan has inspired other groups to embark on a similar journey.
The journey from Central America to the United States is a long and arduous journey. Traveling together adds an element of safety in numbers, especially for vulnerable groups such as women and children. Sadly, migrants and refugees have already faced a repressive response from the Guatemalan and Mexican states, amid pressure from the United States. US President Trump has spread misinformation about the caravan, stoking the racist fears in the US. He has vowed to send 5,200 troops to the border in response to the arrival of the refugees and migrants.
Participants at the solidarity event call for the respect of the migrant and refugee rights by the US, Mexican and Guatemalan governments. They also call on the Canadian government to make a statement in support of the rights of the migrants and refugees, and for Canada to rescind the Safe Third Country Agreement with the US. One of the event organizers Stacey Gomez states: “Trump’s reaction to the migrant caravan once again demonstrates that the US is not a safe country for refugees and we’re fearful that they’ll be met with a violent response by the US government. That’s why international solidarity is so important at this critical juncture.”
At this event, participants will discuss the situation in Honduras and the region that has forced people to leave their homes, focusing particularly on Canada’s role. This includes Canada’s support of the coup government in 2009 and subsequent fraudulent elections that brought President Juan Orlando Hernandez to power, funding of security forces and investigative units to the repressive state, and the backing of foreign investment in the sectors such as mega tourism and mining that have dispossessed people of their lands and livelihoods.
Ms. Gomez added: “While we are showing solidarity with the migrant caravan and standing up against Trump’s racist and xenophobic response, we also need to counter the fear mongering around refugees by the growing far right and white supremacist movement in Canada and call for our government to better respect the rights of undocumented people here.” She pointed to the case of Lucy Granados, an undocumented mother of three who was violently detained and subsequently deported back to Guatemala in April 2018 after nine years of living in Montreal. This occurred despite thousands of Canadians calling on the government to “Let Lucy Stay.” The Canadian Human Rights Commission recently declined to look at Ms. Granados’ complaint against border services agents because of her undocumented status, highlighting the lack of domestic resources to hold the state accountable for abusing the rights of migrants and refugees.
Saturday’s event also offers the opportunity for sharing by communities who are directly impacted by what’s happening. Finally, the event also commemorates those who have died during the journey. To date, at least 4 people have died.