OMOA, Honduras – Gang members killed his brother and shot Juan twice, after which he fled Honduras, first to the US and later to Mexico, the country to which now he keeps trying to return after being deported several times.
On a Saturday last March, the 30-year-old Honduran bricklayer arrived at his job in Tapachula, Mexico, to collect his weekly pay only to be captured by immigration agents and, four days later, to be deported back to Honduras.
Juan – his surname kept secret for security reasons – told EFE in the Honduran city of Omoa, near the Guatemalan border, the same day he arrived from Mexico with other deported countrymen, that this was the sixth time he had been returned home: the first in 2015 from the US and the other five since then from Mexico.
“I didn’t manage to get my week’s pay ... The immigration people captured me on Saturday morning when I went to get it,” he said after leaving the state-run Returned Migrant Attention Center (CAMR) in Omoa.
He is one of the 23 Hondurans who on a Tuesday in early March were deported by bus from the Mexican state of Chiapas, arriving at the Omoa CAMR after a 13-hour overnight trip guarded by two heavily-armed Guatemalan police officers.
At the CAMR, those who want to remain in Honduras are provided with a bus trip to San Pedro Sula, from where they have to make their way on to their homes with barely any government help.
But Juan prefers to keep trying and return yet again to Tapachula, where his Mexican wife and little son await him.
Juan began his repeated migration attempts in 2014 after the gangs began demanding that he pay a “war tax” to them, which he refused to do, whereupon they shot him in the stomach and knee, although they had already killed his older brother.
“I went to California, but the gringos grabbed me there (and) deported me to Honduras” in 2015, he said, after which he tried to settle in Mexico.
In Mexico, he first went to Monterrey, then he worked as a bricklayer in the Federal District and Queretaro, but the “corrupt” Mexican immigration authorities “steal the migrants’ money” and captured him, sending him back to Honduras.
“The truth here (in Honduras) is that there are no work opportunities, the gangs harassed me. (There are) many problems, so I decided it was better to go to Chiapas again,” he said, adding that there’s work for him in Mexico and he also knows carpentry and electrical wiring.
“Every time they deport me I feel sad and destroyed because I come home with no money,” said Juan, adding that “I prefer to emigrate rather than die in my country.”
According to human rights organizations, about 150 Hondurans abandon their country each day. In 2016, the more than 1 million Hondurans who live abroad – most of them in the US – sent some $4 billion home in remittances, or about 20 percent of their country’s Gross Domestic Product.