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Interview with Bartolo Solís, director of Casa del Migrante Hogar de la Misericordia
Interview with Irineo Mujica Alzarte, director of Centro de Ayuda Humanitaria a Migrantes
Interview with Diego Lorente, director of Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Matías de Córdóva
Interview with Gerardo Espinoza Santos of Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Matías de Córdóva
Interview with a representative from the Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos
Interview with Don Hugo, groundskeeper at Cementerio Panteón
Interview with Luis García Villagrán, human rights activist
Interview with Fray Tomás, director and founder of La 72 Hogar
Transcript of interview with Josue, a migrant staying at La 72
Interview with Alexander, a migrant staying at La 72
Interview with Tamara Skubovius, a course participant who was detained at an immigration checkpoint
Transcript of Skype interview with Mizar Martin, muralist at La 72



 Interview with Bartolo Solís, director of Casa del Migrante Hogar de la Misericordia
August 3, 2015



Interview with Irineo Mujica Alzarte, director of Centro de Ayuda Humanitaria a Migrantes
August 3, 2015



Interview with Diego Lorente, director of Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Matías de Córdóva
August 4, 2015



Interview with Gerardo Espinoza Santos of Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Matías de Córdóva
August 4, 2015



Interview with a representative from the Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos, Sede de Tapachula
August 4, 2015



Interview with Don Hugo, the groundskeeper at Cementerio Panteón, Arriaga
August 4, 2015



Interview with Luis García Villagrán and some of the migrants falsely accused of trafficking whom he works with: Hilda, Denia Elizabeth Santos, Karen Vallecillo Castro, Elizabeth, Santa María Rosales, Toño, and Lorenza Obdulia Reyes Núñez
August 4, 2015



Interview with Fray Tomás, director and founder of La 72 Hogar
August 7, 2015



Transcript of interview with Josue, a Honduran migrant staying at La 72 Hogar
August 7, 2015

Interviewed in English by Rita (R) and Sarah (S), with translations to and from Spanish by Janice (J)
R: Can you tell us about how you came here and why you came here? Are you are planning to go on to the US?

J: He came because there’s a lot of violence. Some people leave because of violence, some people leave because of economic reasons. But there, crime runs the country. And if you have money there, you can be okay, but if you don’t, it’s really hard for you. He came [here] with two other people. One day he decided he was fed up: he couldn’t stay there anymore and just left. He didn’t have a plan to go to the US. He still doesn’t have a plan to go to the US. The two other people did have a plan to go to the states. They’re gone; they went there. And he stayed here, and he’s not sure when, but he’ll probably decide to go further north—not to the US, but within Mexico to work. And the other two didn’t make it. They were caught by immigration.

S: How do you know?

J: People here are all connected, and they told him “hey, those two people were caught,” and then he contacted one of them.

R: Can you tell us in general how did you avoid checkpoints? Did you use the train?

J: He paid his way on the bus. It took him five days to get from Honduras to here by bus. In Guatemala, the police picked him and his two partners up, and they held them for three hours and said “immigration’s coming to get you, immigration’s coming to get you,” and they let him go.

S: Do you know why they let you go?

J: He said he didn’t—maybe it was just to scare him.

R: How long have you been here?

J: Eight or nine months.

S: In this shelter?

J: Yes, he came straight here. They went to the center of this town, and the father at the church told him to come here, directed them to this shelter. He came here, and he says they’re treating him very well. That was part of his decision to stay and not go to the US—that he was being treated well here. And he talked to this woman, and she helped him figure out a way to stay here, and he’s actually going to school now.

S: School here in the shelter?

J: No, he goes to a school.

S: How did your parents feel about you going by yourself? Did they not want you to go? Why did they stay?

J: When he was home in Honduras, he would always jokingly say, “I’m going to leave, I’m going to leave, I’m going to go to the states.” The day before he left, he told his mom, “I’m going to the states; I’m going to leave,” and then he left and didn’t tell her. He called her in Guatemala and told her in Guatemala, “Hey, I’m in Guatemala, don’t worry.” She was super mad. They still talk all the time. He calls her, and he talks to his family on Facebook. She asks, “how are they treating you,” and he says, “they’re treating me well,” and she says, “alright.”

J: So I just asked him, “Was there an incident or just general violence? What is it that prompted you to come?” He said it’s complicated. He used to live with his grandmother and moved to a different school, and his cousins and buddies there—he didn’t realize who he was starting to get involved with. His cousin is part of a gang and some stuff happened, and then he ended up being implicated in some stuff with the gang. He was living with his aunt, and the gang members kept coming to ask for him and his cousin. His aunt would say he was away on vacation, and it got to be too much. They were threatening to kill them, and so that’s when he decided. And so then the next day after getting these death threats, he packed up and left, and he doesn’t know where his cousin went. He thinks his cousin is still in Honduras.

R: If you remember and are willing to tell us, could you tell us about when the police took you? What did you do? What did they ask you? If you’re okay with sharing…

J: He was with the two other kids. They were all minors—one was 17 and one was 16. They were walking in Guatemala. They were going to a bus terminal and the cop saw them, motioned them over, and asked them what they were doing and where they were from. They said “Honduras.” And he said, “you’re minors, and you’re unaccompanied, so we’re going to take you in. We are going to call immigration. They’re going to get you.” The police held them in the car for three hours, and during that time they kept asking them for money; they kept wanting to get money out of them, but the boys wouldn’t give them any money. And finally they gave up after three hours and just let them go. And I asked him if they were real police, and he said yes, they were. After they were picked up by the cops, they went to the bus terminal, got on a bus, and on the bus, it just so happened that one of the cousins of one of the guys Josue was traveling with was also on the bus. He said, “stick with me,” and once they crossed over the border, they walked a day and a half because they had run out of money.

S: Did you bring anything with you—like your culture? Being away from home must be really hard: is there anything you brought with you from Honduras?

J: He had what he had on: pants and a shirt. And then three shirts, a swimsuit, and another pair of pants.

S: What about music or culture or dancing?

J: No, he left everything. He didn’t want to have anything. He left his phone on purpose.

S: What about in your head or in your heart?

J: He left his phone because he knew that once his family figured out he was gone that they would call him. He didn’t want to have to answer it. But yeah, he said that there were songs on all the buses, and that’s kind of what made the days more exciting.

R: Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

J: So they were walking, they had just gotten into Mexico, and it was dark. Suddenly it was night, and they saw this house in the distance that looked abandoned. They decided to go there. There was nothing in the house. They were in the bathroom, and they started getting tired, falling asleep. They heard something touch a wall, and all three thought they heard a little kid laugh, and they all got freaked out, and they were like, “what should we do?” One of them said, “let’s leave,” one said, “let’s stay,” and then they were like, “no, no, no we’re being stupid, let’s get out of here.” They were so freaked out that they left and didn’t stay there.

S and R: Gracias, Josue!

Postscript: Following the interview, Janice relayed to us that Josue said we could ask him whatever we wanted: he was happy to get to share his story and his experiences. He explained that they don’t discuss one another’s stories in the shelter.



Interview with Alexander, a Guatemalan migrant staying at La 72 Hogar
August 7, 2015

Alexander (A)

Interviewed by Vanessa (V) and Salma (S)

A: One can follow the train tracks to arrive at the next stop, which is Palenque, and so on and so forth. The next point would be Tierra Blanca, and then after that Orizaba, Veracruz. Then we would continue towards Mexico City in the state of Mexico, and after that we would have to seek an alternative route. This depends a lot on the individual migrant because we don’t all have the same route. In my case, I am thinking of arriving in Mexico City, spending some time there making money, and then continuing towards Monterrey. The route will always be marked by the different parts of the train tracks.

V: But always by train?

A: We always go by train. It is the only means of transport that we have, those of us that have migratory status, without getting detained and repatriated by the Institute of Migration. Throughout the train’s trajectory we will find many risks, delinquency, extortions, and other things, because it has become a way of giving money to other people who do wrong to us. I do feel that it is too much risk that we run for the dream that we want to achieve, and all we can have is hope, and that is what is most preserved in this path.

V: But you want to arrive in the United States right?

A: Not me, not me. I want to get to Mexico City. Some of my friends in this house do have the objective of arriving somewhere in the United States…San Antonio, Dallas…Boston, by means of the train, because the train route connects you to both borders. In certain points, like here in Piedras Negras, which you can cross through to the state of Texas, or Nuevo Laredo and Reynosa, through which you can also cross into Texas. On the side of Phoenix, Los Angeles and all that, you can seek the customs that are in Tijuana, Mexicali, Nogales, Agua Prieta and Ciudad Juarez.  This trajectory is big, is long, is arduous, and full of danger, but as I was telling you before, hope will always be there, and thats what we have to keep alive: hope.



Interview with Tamara Skubovius, a course participant who was detained in southern Mexico by immigration authorities
August 12, 2015



Transcript of Skype interview with Mizar Martin, communications volunteer and muralist at La 72 Hogar
September 24, 2015

Mizar (MM)

Interviewed by Max (MK). Transcript has been edited for length.

MK: How did you first hear of the migration crisis in Chiapas and the other southern states of Mexico?

MM: It was when I first arrived to the southeast of Mexico. Before that I only knew about migration in the US and the north of Mexico. Once I started volunteering in La 72, that’s when I first got in touch with migrants and became aware of the situation.

MK: Why did you move from Tijuana, your hometown, to the south[of Mexico]?

MM: It was actually once I got out of high school. I was accepted into a volunteer program from the Jesuits, and they had this volunteer program for mostly young people from Mexico who are interested in social issues. They had a list of projects, and I selected three options. The Jesuits selected me for La 72, and that’s how I got there in 2012.

MK: Did you initially go to La 72 with the specific intention to paint murals?

MM: I had no idea that I was going to end up doing murals, because first, you know, the shelter [today] is really different than what it was three years ago. It was much smaller. And we had the same working areas like the human rights defense and the orientation for getting papers for the refugees, so I helped in those areas, and I don’t know exactly. I just asked if I could paint something and started with something really small, and then a little painting for Fray Tomás, and then I started to paint walls. Before that I had never painted a mural before.

MK: Were you given free reign with where you could paint?

MM: Yes, I felt really free to do what my heart felt.

MK: You’ve painted many murals at La 72, but you’re not the only artist who has contributed to the artwork in the space. Can you talk a little bit about some of the other artists who have come to volunteer?

MM: Well, the other artists, most of them have backgrounds in human rights and social justice issues. One of the other artists, Saul, he is from Chiapas and is really connected with the Zapatista movement, and he mainly does murals. Many of the artists are really connected to human rights issues in Mexico. I know one of the girls, Riana, I think she painted her first mural there in La 72 also, like me.

MK: What are the migrants’ roles in the creation of the murals? Speaking from your own experience, how are they involved? Do they want to be involved in the process?

MM: Okay, I really like this process. Usually I have this main idea, or there is some idea for the mural, and I just start sketching, and the migrants will just ask if they can help, and of course they can help. It’s really cool because they get to make the murals their own, because they just start giving ideas, and they feel free enough to do more than just my own idea, I really like seeing that because they get really into it. It doesn’t work only as a little distraction, but they put in so many feelings, and they start connecting what they are feeling with what colors they are using. I don’t know—it’s just something that…I’m going to say this in Spanish because the perfect word is really esperanzador [hopeful, encouraging], it gives me so much esperanza [hope]. There are all of these colors and all these murals, that when migrants paint on the walls it’s filled with so much emotion.

MK: What are the volunteers’ roles in the creation of the murals?

MM: Well, a beautiful thing about La 72 is that any wall is ready for an intervention, so other volunteers feel the need to do something on these walls. They normally paint quotes on the walls and in their quarters where they sleep. And that’s when you get all these different things—you don’t just have painted images, but you have what the volunteers feel and what gives them motivation.

MK: What is your process to decide what image you will paint? How is this decision made? And does this involve getting feedback from Fray Tomás, the volunteers, and/or the migrants?

MM:  Well, usually the first thing is talking with Fray Tomás. If we have the receiving area, which is the first place that the migrants have to go through once they get to La 72, well the thing we want to transmit is a feeling of welcoming. The main idea is to make this person feel welcomed and worthy, and so the process goes around these concepts and feelings. If it’s the women’s area, we want them to feel safe and strong. So just like work around these ideas and sketch around that, then start to paint.

MK: So central to the murals are these concepts. Is there any sort of process of talking to other people or is it mainly Fray Tomás and you?

MM: The first filter is with Fray Tomás, and then I just start to sketch something. And that’s when I will usually ask the migrants and talk to the volunteers. That’s also when the migrants will say, “oh, you should do this,” or I’ll just ask them, “what makes you feel worthy? What makes you feel acknowledged and respected, what were your first thoughts when you arrived to La 72?” That’s when I get a greater, more clear idea of what I am going to work on.

MK: I was struck by the beauty at La 72. Do you think artwork it is important for the experience of migration?

MM: Yes, but not only in migration, but I think that in human rights and activism in general. It’s really easy to forget that in all of these struggles and all this work, you have to feel and see some sort of color and brightness. In the middle of such tension and all these stories, which are filled with a lot of pain, you need the color and this hope. I think it is not only important to migrants, but people in general, and especially if someone is in the middle of all these social issues, you really need color and brightness and hope.