Northbound immigrants making their way to the US through Central America are taking to the sea to avoid tougher border enforcement in Mexico.
The exodus by sea of migrants from Guatemala to Mexico is not as complicated nor as big as the in the movement of Middle Eastern and African refugees traveling through the Mediterranean to get to Europe, but it can be just as deadly, newspaper El País reports (link in Spanish.)
Migrants funneling through Mexico en route to the US had in the past relied on “La Bestia,” or the beast, a cargo train on which they rode as stowaways. The nickname was warranted—those who boarded it risked life and limb by traveling on the train’s roof or hanging in between the carriages.
But at the bequest of the US, Mexico has taken a series of measures to keep migrants off the train, including increasing its speed. Mexican authorities have also bulked up border patrols and stepped up deportations.
So many immigrants are now taking small fishing boats from the municipality of Ocós, just south of the Mexican border with Guatemala, to ports on Mexico’s Pacific coast. It’s not a long trip by land; Ocós is about 50 miles (80 km) from the commonly used port of Mazatán, in the Mexican state of Chiapas. But on an overcrowded boat at night, it can be more dangerous than “La Bestia.” Last June, three children drowned, writes El País.