Honduras made world headlines after more than 57,000 Honduran children crossed illegally into the United States since last October, according to the New York Times. U.S. President Barack Obama called it an “urgent humanitarian situation” and asked the U.S. Congress to grant a US$3.7 billion dollar emergency fund to deal with the crisis.
The United States opened three additional temporary shelters, with a total of about 3,000 beds on three separate military camps, to house the sudden influx of unaccompanied Central American minors. However, the situation has not improved much, because an anti-trafficking statute, passed in 2008 with bipartisan support, forbids Central American minors to be deported before given a court hearing.
For many Hondurans, the journey up north is usually their last resort to escape from the extreme poverty and life-threatening violence posed by drug cartels back home. Many of them, including women with young children, decide to risk their lives leaving Honduras after losing loved ones in unexpected incidents. When her boyfriend was shot at the head 40 times on his way home in the Honduran city of Tegucigalpa, Heidy Cabrera left home with her eight year old son and was pregnant with another child.
According to Bloomberg, street gangs that extort businesses and connections to drug cartels caused 6,757 murders in 2013, which was 19 per day in a country with a population of only 8.4 million. It is often the sudden loss of family’s financial support and fear of losing more lives that force these women and kids to embark on the risky journey. While many of them fail to make it pass the border, repetitive attempts are not rare. Despite growing security at the U.S.-Mexican border, many Hondurans are not giving up their “American Dream.”
“I think the government of the U.S. should lend us a hand,” said 34 year old Alvin Rolando Baide, from San Pedro Sula in Honduras, in an interview with the Washington Post. “The few sources of work here are not enough. We are so many, and we are hungry.”
Honduras is one of the few states in the world that maintains official diplomatic relations with Taiwan’s government. Taiwan has traditionally sent aid to Honduras for disaster relief, and has several programs promoting bilateral trade and exchange of agricultural know-how, but Taiwan has not ostensibly commented or been involved in Honduras’ drug and crime issues.
(Feature photo of school children in Honduras, by Zack Clark)