Migration Beyond the Data and Numbers

The theoretical view on migration

Talking about migration with our eyes on Central America has different implications. In this territory, we can see migration from the theoretical and investigative aspects and analyze the profiles of migrants and how they have changed from the ’80s, nowadays, showing a high representation of young people and women. We can also understand migration from migratory flows and dynamics that are experienced in the region. Noting that although the territory only has 522,762 square kilometers, it introduces a SOUTHERN flow, from Nicaragua as the country of origin, to Costa Rica and Panama, as destinations. On the other hand, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala have a NORTHERN flow, bound for the United States and Mexico. Likewise, we can find migratory movements that range from transnational migration to internal forced displacement and return. So, when we talk about Central American migration, we are presented with an issue as broad as the ability of Central Americans to dream of a better future.

In Central America, we also find migration that is not discussed from a theoretical perspective, from academia, but rather, from the depersonalization of the subjects of migration, as numerical data. Maybe when saying numbers instead of names, it hurts less, because for Central America migration is a human movement born in the guts of social inequality, lack of respect for human rights, despair, fear, and hunger.

Beyond theoretical aspects of migration

This American territory traversed by post-war economic crises, dictatorial governments, organized crime, climatic phenomena … terrible structural violence, is the perfect breeding ground for root causes of migration. It is the space where the dream of migrants is born, the utopia of many Central American citizens, the cause of insomnia or nightmare of relatives who remain. In Central America, people are migrating to save their lives, to have a chance! Yes, an opportunity to live away from violence, or to have a job that allows their family to eat, study and have basic dignity.

From the outside, It may be difficult to imagine what could motivate a Honduran mother to leave the “safety of her country” to cross the dangerous territories of Guatemala and Mexico on foot with her children in her arms to reach the United States … from the outside, it may seem reckless for a 26-year-old to hide in the fuselage of an airplane and stowaway exposing his life to reach the United States … perhaps in the eyes of those who live in other latitudes, the hundreds of minors unaccompanied heading to North America are nothing more than a reflection of the lack of responsibility of parents. However, those of us who live in this territory know that each conjunctural situation worsens the already precarious economy of Central Americans. In 2020 we faced a pandemic that continues to extend the failures of the health system of our countries, impacting more to those who are already vulnerable. In the same year, the storms ETA and IOTA hit Central America, making a large part of the Honduran population homeless. All of this leaves us with no possibility of dreaming of a life in our land, our homes.

For those who see the dynamics of the human movement of Central America from the other side, it is necessary to humanize your gaze and ask yourselves: How desperate must a mother be to decide to migrate with her children in her arms, in such risky conditions, on foot, and with no money? What is happening in a country, so that this mother is only one of the thousands who walk in a caravan? What level of anguish must a young person have to get into the fuselage of a plane at the risk of being crushed by the landing gear? What is happening in a country, so that someone risks dying to live?

To see the migrations beyond the numbers and the data is to go in our minds to those cardboard, sheet, and plastic houses and imagine a mother and her children praying at night with a father and husband who is now “a migrant, another number.” It is to imagine eating one last meal with him, maybe a coffee with bread or an omelet and salt, and feeling the lump in your throat because of his departure. It is knowing the overwhelming loneliness of a departure filled with uncertainty, and the great debt acquired with coyotes. It is letting him pursue the dream of a better life for all, without knowing if he will end up like the victims of the Tamaulipas massacre that mourned the town of Comitancillo San Marcos, in Guatemala, or the 166 victims of the recent tragedy that occurred in Chiapas on December 9.

After celebrating the international Human Rights Day on December 10, and today as we celebrate the International Day of Migrants … let us be aware that the deaths and injuries in the Chiapas tragedy are nothing more than the cry of Central America saying that in the matter of human rights there is nothing to celebrate.

We ask ourselves, what can be done? Specifically, as we approach Christmas. Remember the text of the Bible Matthew 25 verses 31:46, remember that being human is wonderful, reach out to the migrant, see him with eyes of compassion and love, give him a glass of water, live the culture of hospitality, it is what makes us human.

Hurricane Eta Lands in Central America

Hurricane Eta, a Category 4 storm with winds that peaked at 150 mph, made landfall south of Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua on Tuesday, November 3rd. Since then, the hurricane has weakened to a tropical storm. Local authorities, however, have warned that flooding and mudslides are creating a slow-moving humanitarian disaster. As of Friday morning, at least 57 individuals have died.

The slow and gradual trajectory of Eta, with its heavy rains and the high environmental and social vulnerabilities of the population and infrastructure, are reminiscent of Hurricane Mitch, which devastated the region 22 years ago.

The storm is projected to continue wreaking havoc in the days ahead, as it moves up through Central America and the Caribbean, potentially affecting Guatemala, El Salvador, Belize, Jamaica, México, Haiti and the Caimán Islands.

Costa Caribe, Nicaragua, escuelas Fe y Alegría[SITUATION ON THE GROUND]

[Update, 11.10.20] In Honduras, Valle de Sula, one of the most affected areas, 1,600 individuals were affected, 37,000 were in shelters and more than 60,000 were evacuated. “At this time, many people from cities in the valley are still on the roofs of their houses waiting to receive food and water for the first time in 3 days or be rescued” says Yolanda Gonzáles Cerdeira, from the area of Human Rights investigation of ERIC-Radio Progreso.

In Guatemala the number of affected individuals rises to 104,000. We are following closely how the situation in the most affected areas (Chiquimula, Zacapa, Alta Verapaz) continues to evolve.

In Nicaragua, 130,000 individuals have been affected, many of whom have partially or completely lost their homes and now face a lack of access to water, sanitation and food security. Around 47,000 individuals are being held in shelters.

[Previously, 11.07.20] We received news from our partners Fe y Alegría in Guatemala as Eta’s slow rains started flooding the region, causing deadly landslides, loss of electricity and the isolation of various vulnerable rural areas. Although the storm was not expected to be felt until Thursday, on Wednesday the country was already experiencing heavy rains. There were no talks of evacuations and no shelters had been set up, the country was not prepared. It is estimated that around 75,000 have been affected by the hurricane and at least 150 individuals have lost their lives.

[Previously, 11.06.20] Nicaragua and Honduras have been the most affected areas of Central America, with a storm surge that has led to severe rains and flooding, as well as heavy winds that have caused landslides, devastated homes and destroyed roads.

In Nicaragua, at least 20,000 people were evacuated prior to the storm hitting and hundreds of shelters were set up. To date, the Nicaraguan government estimates as many as 30,000 citizens in the coastal region have abandoned their homes. UNICEF estimates Eta has affected as many as 1,227,000 people, including 500,000 children and, according to the Empresa Nacional de Transmisión Eléctrica de Nicaragua, at least 12,000 homes have been left without electricity.

In Honduras, more than 2,000 people were evacuated according to the country’s Permanent Contingency Commission and many shelters have reached capacity. The country has been experiencing severe flooding since Monday, as approximately 339 homes have been destroyed and more than 38 rural communities have been left isolated due to the destruction of about five bridges and 14 roads.

El Progreso and el Valle de Sula, where our partner Fe y Alegría has many educational centers, are highly vulnerable low-land areas bordering the Ulúa River, the largest river in the valley. Local authorities have projected that the Ulúas flooding during Hurricane Eta has the potential of being larger than the one during hurricane Mitch.


We have yet to see the outcomes and Eta’s devastation, as the NHC projects that the storm is expected to linger over the region for the coming days, bringing “catastrophic, life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding, along with landslides” over more parts of Central America.


[Update, 11.10.20] Up until today the situation our partners at Fe y Alegría are facing on the ground is as follows:

In Honduras 3 educational centers have been affected, which have also been serving as shelters. The Centro Urraco has flooded with people inside and has been cut off since Friday in the morning, we have not been able to communicate with them. Radio Progreso, has not had the possibility of broadcasting and has internet problems.

In Nicaragua, the areas where Fe y Alegría is present in the country, had no major victims. The storm mainly caused material damages in about 10 educational centers.

In Guatemala 2 educational centers have been affected, those that have not been affected will be used as shelters, all resources that are gathered in these centers will be directly distributed to the community or will be delivered to other institutions for distribution.

We are reminded by our partners that, like in any other natural disaster, “emergency does not end with the rain, since in a country like ours, with so many challenges, a natural disaster of this magnitude has a long lasting impact”.

[Previously, 11.07.20] In Honduras, Fe y Alegría is working to aid the community by delivering food and clothing as well as supporting rescue efforts.


Fe y Alegría Guatemala, has developed a humanitarian emergency response plan to battle Eta’s many repercussions. Educational Centers will turn into provision collection centers, transportation will be setup to deliver emergency relief packages and psycho emotional aid will be provided to all affected. In the midst of this crisis, we cannot forget there is still a global pandemic, to ensure all necessary measures are taken to minimize the spread of the virus, Fe y Alegría developed a COVID-19 safety protocol for all donated provision such as food and clothing.

[Previously, 11.06.20] Our local partner Fe y Alegría has mobilized in both Nicaragua and Honduras, utilizing school buildings as shelters for evacuated communities.

The North Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua, a rural area already exposed to extremely vulnerability, was hit with full force. Fe y Alegría Nicaragua has informed us that they still have not been able to reach the most remote communities, and that the situation is truly disastrous.

Starting on Tuesday, the Centros Técnico Loyola, Bandeira and Nazaret de Urraco, all Fe y Alegría Honduras’ educational centers, were set up as shelters to serve the displaced communities. As the situation has advanced, our partners have informed us that the Centro Técnico Loyola may have to be evacuated due to high risk of flooding, leaving roughly 300 people unprotected. Additionally, Fe y Alegría is distributing nylon tents and awnings to all students who live along rural highways.


After conversations with our partners in the region, at Magis Americas we have activated our emergency protocol in order to assess the current situation and undertake necessary humanitarian support.

This is just the beginning of yet another challenge facing the region, in a year that has already seen the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbate existing inequalities.

To support hurricane relief efforts, click here.

Human rights defenders Consuelo Soto and Pedro Landa protest against human rights violations in Honduras

Diseño sin título (15)

On March 13th and 14th Honduran activists Consuelo Soto, environmental defender and leader of the indigenous tribe Tolupán, and Pedro Landa, researcher, human rights defender and member of ERIC-Radio Progreso, visited Madrid. This visit took place within the framework of the intense advocacy and media work carried out by ALBOAN and Entreculturas-Fe y Alegría Spain regarding the political and social crisis that Honduras is facing following the elections held on November 26, 2017.

ALBOAN and Entreculturas organized a variety of meetings with political representatives to denounce, with first-hand information, the serious human rights violations which are currently taking place in Honduras with the objective of building support from Spanish institutions and society.

Pedro Landa told members of Congress about the democratic crisis which is building up in Honduras since the coup d´état in 2009 ,and which ultimately led to the reelection of president Juan Orlando Hernández after elections held in December last year. In addition, he denounced the brutality of the police and other serious human rights violations that took place during the peaceful demonstrations in the post-electoral period. To this end, he referred to the recent report issued on March 12th by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Honduras documenting at least 22 civilian deaths during the post-electoral period, of which 16 were violent deaths caused by shots fired by security forces.

Consuelo Soto denounced the activity of the extractive industries in Honduras, which carry out their projects without the consent of local communities and which provoke great harm to the population and the environment. She also reported her tough personal experience as a land rights defender in Honduras: “I believe that all human beings deserve to be respected. They killed my husband and everything remains in impunity. After that, I had to flee for my life, but I continue to defend the Earth. My people are fighting and I will continue to do the same”.

Landa and Soto also had the chance to meet with representatives from the Human Rights Office and the International Cooperation Directors of Latin America and the Caribbean of AECID (Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation) under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Consuelo Soto y Pedro Landa ended their visit with an internal conference directed to Entreculturas staff and volunteers and with interviews with the press.

This visit forms part of the actions implemented by Jesuit and Ignatian-inspired institutions around the world, such as the Latin American Conference of Provincials, the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the U.S., Fe y Alegría, the Xavier Network, and Ignatian Solidarity Network, just to name a few of the many standing in solidarity with the people of Honduras.