For the thousands of Central American migrants who cross Mexico en route to the United States every year, the town of Tapachula, half an hour from the Guatemala border, is a dangerous no man’s land of abusive officials and violent gangs. But an increasing number of migrants from all over the world are finding temporary haven here, and the town is becoming a global crossroads, if an unglamorous one. Down 8th Avenue, restaurants serve home-style curries and migrants stroll the sidewalks in traditional clothing, and a multitude of languages can be heard in the courtyard of a local hotel.
These migrants haven’t reached their destination yet, but after a perilous trek the length of the continent, Tapachula is a welcome rest stop. And though the city remains dangerous for locals and migrants alike, a few have even decided to call it home.
This story was produced in association with Round Earth Media, a nonprofit organization that mentors the next generation of international journalists. Manuel Ureste contributed to the reporting.
Kelvin, Rene, Kevin, and Eliseo are four skaters who came up in the same small community in El Salvador. Skating is their passion but it was not easy to live the skater lifestyle in El Salvador. Local gangs would target the skaters because for many, skating was an alternative to gang life and therefore a threat to the gang’s power. When a group of skaters ended up in the hospital after being attacked by a gang in March, the four guys decided to leave El Salvador and try to make it to their dream city: Los Angeles.
Levi Vonk, a Fulbright scholar living in Mexico, met the guys while they were traveling through Mexico and helps us tell their story crossing Central America.
With border enforcement front and center in both immigration reform proposals, security and migration issues are stepping into the limelight. The Washington Office on Latin America found that South Texas was different from other border regions. Senior Associate for Regional Security at WOLA Adam Isacson explains the findings—and reveals the sometimes deadly truths.
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Adam Isacson is a key member of WOLA’s Regional Security Policy team. He is a leading expert on defense, civil-military relations, and U.S. security assistance to the Americas. He collaborates on Just the Facts—a constantly updated source of information and analysis of the United States’ often troubled relationship with Latin America’s militaries. He helped found Just the Facts in the early 1990s.
Mr. Isacson has co-authored dozens of publications, including “Ready, Aim, Foreign Policy” and “Waiting for Change,” which examine the increasing role of the military in U.S. foreign policy. He has testified before Congress on international drug policy, Colombia’s conflict, U.S. military aid programs and human rights, and has organized several congressional delegations to the region.
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