Friday, June 20, 2008
The morning after our train ride I woke up surprisingly comfortable. The motionless quiet of the field we slept in was a great luxury next to the screaming and churning of the train. Just 50 feet away there was a sign warning of all the poisonous bugs and reptiles in the area. I laughed at how small that danger seemed next to what we just went through. After everyone was up we went and grabbed some breakfast before saying final goodbyes. Even though we were headed the same direction it seemed unlikely that we would run into each other again.
We took a taxi to the nearest town and grabbed a bus to Tierra Blanca, the next known stop for the train. Tierra Blanca was a hot, dirty city. There were no birds singing but our sticky shirts let us know we were still in the tropics. Again in a new city, we were subjected to the stares of people who were not used to gringo visitors.
Along the tracks we ran into Alex and Roberto who we had met back in Arriaga. They said everything had been going well so far and that to their estimation there were about 500 people in town waiting for the next train. Alex had lived in the U.S. for 9 years doing construction work before getting deported. This was his eigth trip to the U.S. Roberto was his nephew, an adventerous 15 year old who decided to go with his uncle to find work. Alex said they hadn't had money for a meal in a while so Steve quickly ran to the store to get some bread for them to pass around.
As we talked Alex said he was not trying to work in the U.S. anymore. He said he was fed up with being deported so this time he was going to try to make it all the way to Canada where it was less likely that he would be deported. His motives for leaving however, were quite unique.
Alex's family had been fighting with another family for quite some time. He already had four relatives killed by the other family and he had left for the States fearing for his life. Now that he had been caught and deported several times he decided to try his luck working in Canada. We asked him why he had not tried to go to another Latin American country and he said he did not like the corruption that was always around. He was afraid he would be found unless he headed somewhere completely away from his Honduran ties.
The United States has a mandate to accept any political refugees seeking asylum but as far as I know that policy does not apply to family situations even if the threat is the same. I will never really be able to understand what it is like to flee a country fearing for your life but I sympathize with Alex's positon. Sircumstances have forced him to leave everything that he knew and now if he goes back to the U.S. he will be considered a criminal. I hope he and Roberto make it to Canada. I hope they find good work there. I mourn the fact that there is no way for them to find safety in a country that works so hard to keep me safe.
at 12:11 PM