Latin America Notes: January-February 2021

January 31, 2021

From the January-February 2021 issue of News & Letters

Voices from a Migrant Caravan—In the first migrant caravan of 2021, some 9,000 migrants from Honduras attempted to cross into Guatemala, seeking to travel to the U.S. They were confronted by Guatemala’s army and police, who attacked them with tear gas and beat them with batons. Below are voices from that caravan:

 They have no heart, we are risking our lives. There is no work in Honduras, especially after the two cyclones and the pandemic.

—Dixón Vázquez, 29

 I come asking for help to be able to support my children, because there is nothing there, there is no work and my children are starving due to unemployment. There is no support from the government.

—Olga Ramírez, 28, a street vendor at a bus station in Honduras

Since 2018, more than a dozen massive migrant caravans have left Central America to seek opportunities in Mexico and, above all, in the U.S. On their way, they have faced repression by the police and army, discrimination and hate speech in the countries through which they pass.

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Pandemic Housing Occupation in Brazil—Thrown out of work by the pandemic, and with no money for housing, some São Paulo residents are doing occupations to have a place to live. One is the Jardim Julieta occupation, one of the “new favelas,” that is, spaces created to deal with the impact of the pandemic on the poor.

The people here have lost their jobs and have been evicted from their homes. We are “pandemic victim residents.” We set ourselves a deadline to only stay until February, and we are all apprehensive and afraid of being left without a home, without any means to pay rent, and without knowing when the pandemic will end.

—Buba Rodrigues, dance instructor

I’ve been here for over three months. The mayor has not come here. I don’t have access to hand sanitizer, a mask, and other things, plus I am unemployed. What should I do?

—Maria Lucía

Without emergency aid, without income, I had nothing else I could do. I have always worked, I am not one who complains about work, but I was left with no option and this was available for the time being.

—João Carlos, bricklayer

The Jarim Julieta occupation is under threat. The Urban Development Secretariat demanded the eviction of the families even during the pandemic. After the residents protested, and with anti-eviction protests occurring throughout Brazil, repossession was suspended until the end of the emergency period caused by the pandemic. (Information from RioOnWatch,

—Eugene Walker

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