After weeks of traveling dangerous routes, hundreds of Venezuelans experienced bitter moments on Saturday when they arrived at Eagle Pass, on the border of the United States with Mexico, and encountered a dense crowd of armed soldiers and barbed wire.
“Are we safe?” asked the Venezuelan Karlen Ramírez, crying after crossing the Rio Grande (or Rio Grande), the natural border that separates the two countries, and passing through the wire with hundreds of compatriots who fled from himself. country, immersed for many years in a deep economic, social and political crisis.
Eagle Pass, a city in Texas with almost 30,000 inhabitants, has become a gateway for thousands of migrants who come to the United States in search of a better life.
Next to a golf course that stretches under one of the bridges connecting Mexico and the United States, US authorities have installed rolls of barbed wire, the last obstacle for migrants on their journey to the “American dream .”
“We are all Venezuelans,” said Jesús Ramírez, displaying a small tricolor flag of his country. “We will all leave, all but one, the one who has to leave,” in reference to the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro.
Most of the new arrivals are from Venezuela. Others, like Luis Durán, from Maracaibo, said that when he saw the entire border covered with barbed wire he felt fear.
“I thought they were going to bully us,” added the 37-year-old Venezuelan, who was alternately crying and smiling nervously after crossing a gap through which more than 500 migrants had also entered in the early hours of the morning.
In the afternoon, another small group said they were mistreated by some military personnel. “They didn’t let us through and let us go and let us go,” said José Ruiz, a 29-year-old Venezuelan, who said he and his wife walked nearly two kilometers along the river under the scorching sun in Texas with a thermometer. reaches 40ºC.
“They don’t care, they don’t respect us many times.”
“We asked them for water, and they didn’t give it to us, they drank it in front of us,” said his wife Katiuska Rodríguez.
“For about 3 hours, or 4 hours, we were there waiting for the sun, and it was dangerous to drown in the water,” said Antony Quintero, 21, who pointed to the first point where the group was prevented from entering. in.
– “There is no comparison” –
Since October last year, US authorities have intercepted 2.2 million migrants at its southern border, according to official data.
The figure shows the challenge Washington faces on immigration matters.
The issue has divided American society and has been used politically by Republicans and Democrats to attack each other.
With tensions increasing in the conservative state of Texas, Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security of the United States, met this Saturday with the president of Honduras, Xiomara Castro, also in the border city of McAllen, and visited some immigrant settlements.
Joe Biden’s administration has tried to discourage this migratory flow with special asylum and visa processing programs in countries like Venezuela.
And on the ground, the authorities are applying prevention strategies.
This Saturday a military convoy arrived to strengthen the personnel and more wires the holes that the migrants made to enter the United States in recent days.
Scraps of clothing hang on spikes, an image that illustrates the determination of the migrants. Many of them had to cross the dangerous Darien forest in Panama, walk hundreds or thousands of kilometers or climb on the roof of a train to reach the United States.
A barbed wire won’t cut them. They dig holes to get under or create holes to carefully cross while the military watches.
“This here,” said Dileidys Urdaneta, a 17-year-old Venezuelan, pointing to the wire, “is nothing, because what we experienced, what we went through, is worse. And what what we left behind, don’t even talk about it, there’s no comparison.”
The teenager arrived in Eagle Pass this Saturday with only documents, a phone with no battery and the clothes he was wearing, but with the hope that everything “will only get better.”