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An Immigrant Woman Becomes Visible – Speaks Out

Ercilia Janeth Ferrera Erazo, CND

Photo credit: Marie-Claire Dugas

Yes, as the title states, an immigrant woman becomes visible: I, myself, and all those who are immigrants, particularly “the caravan of migrants currently in Mexico.” Yes, they have become visible because they have shown the necessary strength to leave their beloved country, the strength to show the world the desperate situation in which the majority of Honduran people live.

I wish to share my experience and understanding about the caravan’s message... I am speaking as an immigrant woman in a country that was founded and built by immigrants. I am also speaking as a daughter of Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys, herself an immigrant woman who welcomed so many immigrants and who, with them, built a new city.

Yes, the two great North American nations were built and founded by European immigrants. I wonder if all those people entered legally with their passports and visas? Were they also considered invaders? Did Marguerite have a visa when she arrived in Ville Marie? I speak from a privileged and legal standpoint, since I was granted a visa to live in this beautiful country.

This caravan of migrants may cause indifference, silence and discomfort. Questions surface: Why don’t you stay in your country and solve your problems among yourselves? It may be that people, for whatever reason, do not understand everything about this situation or may not be interested in the migrants’ situation or problem. Thus, it is important and encouraging that we are providing a safe space for reflection and research together.

As the song says: "I cannot stay silent. I cannot remain indifferent. In the face of the suffering of so many people, I cannot stay silent. I cannot stay silent. My friends will forgive me. I have a commitment. I must sing about reality..."

Yes, the reality demonstrated by the caravan is a cry of desperation, a call for help, a plea for all nations to see what is going on in Honduras! “This situation cannot last.” Is it better for these people to leave to find a better future for their families or to stay and die at the hands of the maras or because of the current government’s policies? Is it better for them to die while searching for other solutions, even if these are hazardous and bring suffering, hunger, pain, fatigue...even if these threaten their lives?

The caravan is an unexpected social response for the government, the churches, the NGOs, the politicians. It is a surprising response from the grassroots.

The caravan makes visible a situation that has not stopped being spoken about, denounced and condemned since Hurricane Mitch. The 2009 coup d’état, was orchestrated by the then president of the National Congress, the same man who is today President of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernandez. It was essential for him to carry out the coup because Manuel Zelaya wanted a consultation on a possibility of a presidential re-election. Ultimately, without consultation and by placing every means and legislation, every state power and social media to his favor, Hernandez presented himself for re-election. This is unconstitutional. The most recent fraudulent elections (November 2017) saw him become the country’s president and proclaim that his government would bring about “a better life.” Instead, his government is plagued with corruption, and protests have become illegal. Respectfully, I ask, A better life for whom?

Canada and the United States have recognized Juan Orlando Hernandez’s presidency. Why is that? Because of economic interests that these two countries have in Honduras and in Central America, specifically in the mining sector and the textile industry?

The exodus of the people of Israel made visible the oppression and exploitation to which they were subjected by the Egyptian Pharaoh. Jesus’ childhood was also marked by flight because he was at risk of being killed by Herod. These faith-based experiences show us how important it is to value and protect life.

Hondurans are fleeing a situation of oppression, repression and dictatorship in their country. They are denouncing to the outside world something that has been cried out, stated and condemned for many years, but that has never been received or answered. The current cry is meant to draw the attention of the world’s nations to the country so that they may offer words of hope in the face of such a desperate situation, provide life-giving breath, and help lead the change of a situation of injustice brought about by the present government.

Pathways of hope have become a reality

Several grassroots movements have surfaced, “of the people, for the people,” as we say. They have faced repression, kidnappings, and assassinations; there have also been many political prisoners. If this is not so, then let someone explain to me the 100 days of popular resistance demonstrations and protests! After Juan Orlando's Hernandez‘s first mandate – I can talk about it because I too marched with the people and tried to find possible alternatives – the torchlight movement, the indignation movement and recently the convergence movement against the status quo emerged. This proves that people sought solutions, that their conscience was awakening and that they wanted change, a change that authorities refused to see and hear! For this reason, we are amazed and shaken by this massive migrant march, because it represents a different and unexpected voice.

Faced with this reality of global migration Pope François tells us: “All of them hope that we will have the courage to tear down the wall of “comfortable and silent complicity” that worsens their helplessness; they are waiting for us to show them concern, compassion and devotion.” (Holy See-Mexico Conference on International Migration).

Here are the final questions to accompany us on the road: What would Jesus of Nazareth do? How would he respond to this situation? What would Marguerite Bourgeoys do? How would she respond?

Inspired by our beautiful mission orientation “Go to the peripheries. In a spirit of mutuality and collaboration, respond in hope to the cries of our wounded world,” how do we respond to this cry, to this periphery?

Thank you to the people who question, who question themselves and who are preoccupied by and unhappy with this reality.

Below find five international solidarity actions that we can promote in order to SUPPORT THE MIGRATION OF THE HONDURAN PEOPLE TRAVELLING TO THE UNITED STATES.

  1. PICKET LINES AND SILENT PROTESTS IN FRONT OF THE EMBASSIES AND CONSULATES of Honduras, Mexico and the United States to demand the resignation of Juan Orlando Hernandez and his cabinet because of their corruption and their inability to stop the violence and hardships that have resulted in so many forced displacements.
  2. OPEN LETTERS AND PETITIONS TO THE MINISTERS OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS of our countries demanding clear positions, respect for human rights and effective protection by the originating, transitional and final governments that are involved in this mobilization.
  3. SYMBOLIC ACTIONS WITH NETWORKS OR POWERFUL NATIONAL ACTORS WITH WHOM WE WORK, caravans of solidarity, use of badges to help keep in mind the humanitarian tragedies that are going on, informative material to help raise awareness, testimonies, meetings with Honduran communities in our countries, etc.
  4. USE OF NATIONAL MEDIA to adequately inform about what is really happening with his migration of human beings in search of a life of dignity.
  5. DEMAND FIRM AND BRAVE PARTICIPATION OF INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS, observers, media and all accredited actors who defend human rights in order to provide humanitarian assistance, to document, denounce and demand protection of all the people who are travelling.



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