Honduran survivor of migrant massacre joins caravan for safety | Mexico News

Arriaga, Mexico – Billy Noe Martinez was less 150km from the US-Mexico border eight years ago when his journey came to an abrupt stop.

A group of men abducted Martinez, along with other migrants he was travelling with, at gunpoint, took them to a ranch, and lined them up with their face against a wall. 

The gunmen then shot them one-by-one. 

Standing at the end of the line, Martinez managed to escape through a window, hiding submerged in a river until the gunfire ended, he said.

In total 72 people were killed. Martinez is one of at least two known survivors. The perpetrators are  allegedly part of Los Zetas, an organised crime and drug trafficking network initially formed by former members of Mexican military special forces. Los Zetas and other Mexican organised crime networks have a history of holding migrants for ransom and killing them if their relatives are unable to pay, and sometimes even if they are. At least 11 people are charged in connection with the San Fernando massacre, but no one has been convicted.

Eight years after being nearly killed along what is often dubbed the migrant trail, Martinez made the difficult decision to head north through Mexico once again. When he saw the news of a huge group leaving Honduras, he decided to join for safety in greater numbers. 

More than 1,000 Hondurans initially fled their country together last month, travelling on foot and getting rides when offered. The group, dubbed a migrant caravan, quickly grew to several thousand and is currently heading in waves to Mexico City. 

Thousands more are following behind them in subsequent groups from Honduras and El Salvador. Large groups crossed the Suchiate River into Mexico this week and are now making their way up through southern Mexico.

The initial caravan of migrants and refugees left Honduras last month [Guillermo Arias/AFP] 

Martinez wants to make it to the US for safety and to work and provide for his family. The migrants and refugees are not harming anyone, he said.

“I have six children,” he told Al Jazeera before quickly correcting himself: “I have five.”

Martinez’s 18-year-old son Jonathan was murdered last year. Martinez is not certain why. More than 90 percent of homicides in Honduras go unsolved.

Resting his head on the small backpack he is carrying on his journey, Martinez laid on the highway while Mexican federal police briefly blocked the thousands of migrants and refugees from advancing through the state of Chiapas.

My first time was an experience of much sadness. Let’s hope this time is better than the last.

Billy Noe Martinez, participant of migrant caravan

Last week, US President Donald Trump announced a series of drastic measures at the US southern border in response to the exodus of Central American asylum-seekers. He said his administration is finalising a plan that could include indefinite tent camp detention. More than 5,000 troops are already heading to the border and Trump said that number to grow to up to 15,000 troops. He added that troops should view rock-throwers as if they have a firearm. 

Martinez survived a massacre only to later have to bury his teenage son. He is not easily phased. Happy to be travelling with thousands of others for safety, he is hopeful he will be able to make it this time and provide for his family.

“My first time was an experience of much sadness,” Martinez told Al Jazeera.

“Let’s hope this time is better than the last.”

Editor’s note: As a protected witness, Martinez’s name was not revealed by the Mexican government, but he has since chosen to speak out about the experience and has recently given interviews to several Mexican media outlets as well as to Al Jazeera.

Source link

more recommended stories

  • Indonesia’s Prabowo challenges election result in court | News

    Defeated Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto.

  • India elections 2019: All the latest updates | India News

    Counting of votes is under way.

  • US charges WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with espionage | USA News

    The US Justice Department unveiled 17.

  • What you need to know about India’s BJP | India News

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is.

  • Pentagon ‘mulls sending thousands more troops’ to Middle East | News

    The United States‘ Department of Defense.

  • US House Speaker Pelosi says Trump is engaged in a ‘cover up’ | USA News

    Democrats in the United States House.

  • Washington says attacks ‘deterred’ as US-Iran tensions rise | News

    The acting US defence secretary says.

  • New Ukrainian President Zelensky calls early parliamentary polls | Ukraine News

    Ukraine‘s new President Volodymyr Zelensky called.

  • Water supplies restored to besieged Libyan capital Tripoli | Libya News

    Water supplies to the 2.5 million.

  • Trump loses lawsuit challenging subpoena for financial records | Trump News

    A US judge on Monday ruled.

  • North African filmmakers pushing boundaries at Cannes 2019 | France News

    This year’s Cannes Film Festival is.

  • US says warship sails in South China Sea amid trade tensions | News

    The United States military has said.

  • Saudi Arabia ‘seeks to avert war, ready to respond with force’ | News

    Saudi Arabia wants to avert war.

  • Eurovision vs Globalvision: An artistic response | Palestine News

    Bethlehem and London – Palestinian, Israeli.

  • Presidential hopeful Joe Biden calls for unity in inaugural rally | Elections 2018 News

    Former Vice President Joe Biden has.

  • US warns airliners flying over Gulf of ‘misidentification’ | Iran News

    US diplomats warned commercial airliners flying.

  • Australian election: Voting under way in key contest | Australia News

    Melbourne, Australia – Australians are heading.

  • An Iranian building bridges in wall-obsessed America | US & Canada

    A towering artist of his generation,.

  • Taiwan parliament to vote on same-sex marriage legislation | Taiwan News

    Amid deep divisions, Taiwan‘s parliament has.

  • The Philippines’ Duterte: In pursuit of an imperial presidency | Asia

    Although President Rodrigo Duterte‘s name was.

  • Venezuela government, opposition in Norway for crucial talks | News

    Envoys from the Venezuelan government and.

  • Alibaba earnings hint at China’s ability to weather trade war | China News

    China‘s e-commerce giant Alibaba Group reported.

  • Iran halts some commitments under 2015 nuclear deal | News

    Iran has officially stopped some commitments.

  • PNG assesses damage from magnitude 7.5 earthquake | Papua New Guinea News

    Authorities in Papua New Guinea have dispatched.

  • Palestinian campaigners call for mass boycott of Airbnb on May 15 | News

    A Palestinian campaign has called on.

  • Spyware discovered targeting phones through WhatsApp calls | News

    Spyware crafted by an “advanced cyber.

  • Senior Palestinian official says she was refused US visa | USA News

    A senior Palestinian official has said she.

  • Sweden to reopen rape probe against WikiLeaks founder Assange | News

    Julian Assange is to be investigated.

  • Small lead for Australian opposition as election nears: poll | Australia News

    Australia‘s opposition Labor Party retains a.

  • Gunmen attack hotel in Pakistan’s Gwadar, kill five people | News

    Islamabad, Pakistan – Gunmen have stormed a.

  • India election 2019: Sixth round of voting under way for 59 seats | India elections 2019 News

    Voters in Delhi and elsewhere in.

  • Houthi rebels begin withdrawal from key ports in Yemen | Yemen News

    Yemen’s Houthi rebels have begun a.