Mexico’s xenophobic wave grows against Central Americans


 “Migration is a danger … migrants are criminals … lazy … illiterate”; These are some words and phrases that began to circulate on social networks with the arrival of migrant caravans; speeches that, according to Tania Ramírez Hernández, Deputy Director General of Linkage, Culture and Education of the National Council to Prevent Discrimination (Conapred), do not represent the feelings of the majority of Mexicans, but it is worrying that they are reproduced.

Mexicans protest against caravan of migrants

In an interview, he explained that the expressions of discrimination that arise in relation to the Central American migratory flow are rooted in two elements: ignorance and fear – often unconscious – on the part of some who enjoy certain privileges, of losing them.

The combination of these factors plays against when stigmas and stereotypes come to light. In the case of xenophobia, another element enters, agoraphobia or aporophobia, which is rejection, aversion, fear and contempt towards the poor, towards the homeless.

This, since xenophobia is the fear of the outside, abroad, but in the case of caravans that cross national territory, the people that make them have left countries that are going through an economic crisis and violence.

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The seriousness of this type of expression “is the idea that the way of being of a small group represents the rest, this puts in risk the possibility of developing a project of dignified life for these people,” said Ramírez Hernández.

In the text of the Conapred  Myths and realities about the migrant caravan and the refugees, it is pointed out that xenophobia and “raciclasm” against people of Central America has manifested itself in Mexican society for decades, but now more openly. This must be confronted as what it is: expressions of discrimination.

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“It is worrisome that in Mexico we reproduce a racist and xenophobic discourse … especially because it addresses the Central American populations, whose socio-demographic, ethnic and cultural profile is very similar to that of the national population. In this way, the rejection of the people of Central America, in general, and those of the migrant caravan in particular, is only a reflection of the hatred and discrimination that is exercised in other latitudes against the people of Mexico itself, “he adds.

Data from the National Survey on Discrimination 2017 shows that these social reactions do not represent the majority opinion of the Mexican population: more than half think that they should be given refuge until they can return to their country (53 percent) and a third part thinks that they should be given papers so that they can live and work here (33 percent). In turn, it shows that the opinion that we should close the border and return them to their country is a minority (1 and 12 percent, respectively).

Tania Ramírez Hernández points out that in order to counteract discriminatory expressions it is important to inform about the fact that the socio-demographic composition of migrant groups is not what is preached in some tweets.

“We are not facing a threat … it is not an invasion … in fact migration to Mexico represents a minuscule number that does not face the classification of problems,” he said, and clarified that it is a phenomenon that must be addressed, that challenges us; However, if human rights are intelligently and respectfully addressed, the stories do not have to end in unpleasant facts.

Source: La Jornada

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