AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: President Trump continued to lash out at the Central American migrant caravan making its way toward the U.S. border on Monday, claiming without evidence that terrorists and members of the MS-13 gang had infiltrated the group.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Go into the middle of the caravan, take your cameras and search. OK? … You’re going to find MS-13. You’re going to find Middle Eastern. You’re going to find everything. And guess what. We’re not allowing them in our country. We want safety. We want safety.
AMY GOODMAN: Trump also doubled down on his threat to cut aid to Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and called out Democrats over the U.S. border policy, blaming them for the caravan, saying they’re behind it, in an ongoing attempt to turn the caravan into a main issue for the midterm elections. Meanwhile, locals who live on the caravan route have been providing volunteer assistance, basic necessities to the migrants heading north. This is Mexican resident Ana Gamboa.
ANA GAMBOA: [translated] The only thing I can say to people is that they should be more human, that we should look into our hearts and imagine ourselves in the migrants’ shoes, because it isn’t easy, what the migrants are doing. We Mexicans like to criticize Donald Trump for the way he treats Mexicans in the United States, and now we’re acting just like him. We don’t have any walls on our border, but sometimes we ourselves are the wall.
AMY GOODMAN: We are joined right now by two guests. From El Salvador, Oscar Chacón is with us, executive director of Alianza Americas, an immigrant rights group based in Chicago. And in Boston, Honduran immigrant Patricia Montes, executive director of the Centro Presente in Boston, which has worked with members from Honduras and Central America since the ’80s.
I want to start there, in Boston, to talk to you about what is taking place, Patricia. And if you can respond to President Trump talking about the Middle Easterners and the MS-13 and the terrorists in the group that are heading north? The criminals, he said.
PATRICIA MONTES: Yes, Amy. What we’re definitely seeing right now is a humanitarian crisis as a result of the structural problems that Honduras has been facing for a very long time. It is an alarming crisis in Honduras and an alarming level of corruption, impunity, extreme poverty and extreme violence that Honduras has been facing for a very long time. And this crisis has been invisible within the conversation about forced migration in the United States.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Oscar Chacón, I wanted to ask you—you’re there in El Salvador. Could you talk about how the countries of Central America are viewing this confrontation now, this caravan? Because as you’ve noted, these caravans have become a regular part of the migration process, as many people who are desperately leaving Central America feel safer in groups of people because of all the assaults and the attacks by criminal gangs through Mexico as they migrate to the U.S. border.
OSCAR CHACÓN: Well, I think that if you ask me what the governmental reaction has been, it has actually been mainly quiet. There hasn’t really been any official responses by the governments of Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, precisely to the threats made by the president that he will cut off aid to these countries.
From the perspective of people just talking about what these caravans represent, I mean, most people in government that I’ve talked to, but also civil society actors, people are very surprised, because, in many ways, it is not that it is new that so many people are leaving Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador. What is really new is that they gather together at the moment of departing Honduras, in this particular instance. But the reality is, all you need to look at is the data from the past several years. It is very clear that there has been an increasing number, especially of Hondurans, leaving the conditions that Patricia was describing."