Eye witness accounts of events at the border in Tijuana, Mexico, by Amelia Frank-Vitale

These are the words of an anthropologist friend of mine – who has been traveling from Honduras with the caravan – regarding events at the Souther border over the weekend. No media news spin here: “Today was heartbreaking. My own country, the one with the most powerful military in the world, used that power to overwhelm a group of people in search of safety and a better future for themselves and their children. I know, the US is in no way the promised land. But, people deeply believe that their lives would be a touch easier, they could breathe a bit calmer, if they could just make it to the other side of that damn “fence.”

There was no getting into the US today. The Mexican police blocked off street after street, dividing the group and confusing what had been planned as a straightforward, peaceful protest near the pedestrian crossing point. This was not to be, and after trying to dialogue with the police, people split off, using side streets. Nobody was totally sure where they were headed, but all hoping to be able to get near (or through) the check point.

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Family members resting Sunday in Tapanatepec, Mexico – Courtesy of Democrat-Gazette

When one group neared the “fence,” the US border patrol and armed police fired tear gas and rubber bullets. The group dispersed. on the other side of the canal, well into Mexican territory, the US once again fired tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd. These bullets hit some people,  I saw at least five people wounded from impacts from rubber bullets and spray-paint can-sized gas canisters. this includes a foreign journalist and Ruben Figueroa a migrant activist.

When I saw Ruben bleeding profusely from the back of his head, all I could think was – fuck, my country did this. I took him to the hospital, he got some stitches, thankfully he will be fine. I thought, seriously is this how to respond to a few thousand people in flip-flops, many of them pushing baby carriages, trying to get in to the US?

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Migrants on their way towards the US border

My eyes still burn, and I have that rough cough that comes from inhaling tear gas. However mostly, I am totally heart broken and and angry. At one point we traipsed across the canal that was the Tijuana river. There’s a small stream of waste water and a good part of the canal bed is kind of sticky muddy with sewage sludge. This is very anti-climatic for these people, after walking across Mexico, they literally walked through shit today for a peek into the United States. That they were met with force and cruelty by my country makes me so very ashamed.

I’ve heard reports that the march, and the actions of the caravaneros, wasn’t peaceful. We all know that’s bullshit, peaceful is not a synonym for submissive. Peaceful doesn’t mean you have to put your head down, accept shit, and thank the people stepping on your neck. Many changed routes, jumped over fences, climbed up hills, and scrambled onto a parked freight train. The only group of people using real force today, the only people really threatening violence, were the border patrol and police.”

 

By Amelia Frank-Vitale, an anthropology student traveling with the caravan

Photo Credit –

Family having breakfast in Mexico – Democrat Gazette

Caravan on the road – Pedro Pardo/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

 

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