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“We left Caracas

two months ago”

“There’s nine of us, and we managed to raise Q10”. Nohemí and her group —integrated by her husband, children, nephews, and friends— are stuck in the township of Esquipulas. They arrived the night before to the migrant shelter San José, located 10 kms from “Agua Caliente”, one of the boarders between Guatemala and Honduras. 

Their goal is to “cross” Guatemala and México, so they can reach the United States. 

“How long will it take to get to the city?” asks her 15-year-old son.

“Four to five hours”, someone in the background replies. 

They must travel 480 km to reach the border of Tecún Umán, which is adjacent to the city of Tapachula, Mexico. To get there, they will have to go through numerous checkpoints where a bribe will be demanded in exchange for not being returned to the border.

“The police believes that we are millionaire tourists,” says another migrant who has joined the conversation, while denouncing the illegal charges to which they are subjected. “You advance 10 kms and they take money from you, you go from $10 to $10.”

If they decide to take a direct bus, Nohemí and her family would need Q1,440.00 to reach the city capital, but as challenging as it may seem, they remain positive. “Guatemala is not that big, so we can cross it in a day”. They have been travelling for two months. 

“We left Caracas (Venezuela) two months ago”, Nohemí says. Her next story seems to take her breath away, as if each word were responding to a specific event faithfully stored in her memory. 

“He (her husband) and I first went to Peru because our youngest child had escaped. In a month, he had already gotten a job and paid for a room, but we went to take him with us”. Travelling from country to country in the south seems to have presented no major complications.

“The hard part is crossing the jungle, and it took us five days,” she says, referring to the Darién Gap, a region of 575 thousand hectares between Colombia and Panama. “Groups of 200 people enter there and only 150 of them leave. People stay on the road, and nobody says a thing,” she continues.

“I crossed through La Llorona, where I saw how the river carried away the baby of some Haitians; they had her secured in place, but the current was too strong. We barely managed to keep our balance”. Her other relatives crossed through “Banderas”, another equally dangerous route.