After weeks of traveling dangerous routes, hundreds of Venezuelans experienced bittersweet moments this Saturday when they arrived at Eagle Pass on the U.S. border with Mexico and encountered a dense swarm of armed soldiers and barbed wire. “Are we safe?” asked Venezuelan Karlen Ramírez, weeping after crossing the Rio Grande (or Rio Grande), the natural border that separates the two countries, along with hundreds of compatriots fleeing their homeland , had gone through the fence. Country that has been in a deep economic, social and political crisis for years. Eagle Pass, a Texas city of nearly 30,000 residents, was a gateway for thousands of migrants coming to the United States in search of opportunity. Next to a golf course that stretches under one of the bridges connecting Mexico and the United States, U.S. authorities have installed rolls of barbed wire, the final obstacle for migrants on their journey to the “American dream.”
“We are all Venezuelans,” said Jesús Ramírez, who displayed a small tricolor of his country. “We are all leaving, all except one who should go,” alluding to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Most of the new arrivals come from Venezuela. Some, like Luis Durán from Maracaibo, said that when he saw that the entire border was covered in barbed wire, he became afraid. “I thought they were mistreating us,” added the 37-year-old Venezuelan, who alternately cried and smiled nervously after crossing a gap through which more than 500 migrants also passed in the early hours. In the afternoon, another smaller group reported being ill-treated by some military personnel. “They didn’t let us pass and made us run and run,” said José Ruiz, a 29-year-old Venezuelan who says he and his wife walked nearly two kilometers along the river under the scorching Texas sun with the thermometer at 40 degrees Celsius to reach.
“They don’t care, they disrespected us several times.” “We asked them for water but they didn’t give it to us, they drank it in front of us,” said his wife Katiuska Rodríguez. “But that doesn’t matter anymore, we’re already here. What we want is an opportunity to work,” Ruiz added.
“There is no comparison”
According to official figures, US authorities have intercepted 2.2 million migrants at the southern border since October last year. The number highlights the challenge Washington faces on immigration issues. The issue is dividing American society and is being used politically by Republicans and Democrats to attack each other. Given the increasing tensions in the conservative state of Texas, Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security of the United States, must meet this Saturday with the President of Honduras, Xiomara Castro, in the city of McAllen, also on the border, to discuss binational cooperation .
Joe Biden’s administration has tried to stem this flow of migrants with special programs to process asylum applications and visas in countries like Venezuela. And the authorities are using deterrence strategies on site. This Saturday, a military convoy arrived to reinforce and further wire the gaps created by migrants entering the United States in recent days. Pieces of clothing hang from the spikes, an image that illustrates the migrants’ determination. Many of them had to cross Panama’s dangerous Darien jungle, walk hundreds or thousands of miles, or climb onto the roof of a train to get to the United States. Barbed wire won’t cut them off. They dig holes to pass under or drill holes to carefully cross while the military watches. “This,” said Dileidys Urdaneta, a 17-year-old Venezuelan, pointing to the wire, “is nothing, because what we experienced, what we went through, is much worse. And what we leave behind, right?” I don’t even mention it, no, there is no comparison. The teenager arrived in Eagle Pass this Saturday with only papers, a phone without battery and the clothes she was wearing, but with the hope that now everything “can only get better.”