Flashpoint Dominoes - Complexities of the Central American Caravan

November 27, 2018  •  127 Comments

tijuana caravan nov 25 16916tijuana caravan nov 25 16916Refugees Tijuana, Mexico on Nov. 25, 2018 - Photo by Columbia SC photographer Sean Rayford

Near midday on Sunday in Tijuana, a large group of Central American refugees and migrants peacefully marched to the southern entrance of the ‘Puente El Chapparal,’ a half mile long bridge that provides access to the port of entry to San Ysidro, CA. It was here that they were blocked by the Mexican Federal Police and where Sunday’s first major domino fell. Met with a wall of law enforcement, the group multiplied and tensions rose. Instead of funneling the group onto a contained bridge, the authorities forced the marchers in other directions, which is when folks started running, seeking an alternative route to the port and border area.

tijuana caravan nov 25 17353tijuana caravan nov 25 17353Refugees Tijuana, Mexico on Nov. 25, 2018 - Photo by Columbia SC photographer Sean Rayford

On Thanksgiving night, a smaller group had participated in a peaceful march over the same bridge to the port where they held a demonstration. Many stayed the night, sleeping on the street and sidewalks nearby. 

But on Sunday afternoon, the bridge was blocked and the most physically capable of the group, led them east along the edge of the city where they could gain access to the Tijuana River, which is basically a giant concrete open sewer. Instead of the group being contained on the bridge, where they could have been easily halted near the port side with limited resources, they were spread across a concrete arena greater than the size off ten football fields. 


tijuana caravan nov 25 18310tijuana caravan nov 25 18310Refugees Tijuana, Mexico on Nov. 25, 2018 - Photo by Columbia SC photographer Sean Rayford

As the vast majority of the caravan marchers crossed back to the southern bank of the concrete slab covered in fecal matter, it was here that a smaller group, made up of a diverse array of people, including what appeared to be handfuls of American anarchists, women and children, even a resident of the riverbed/sewer, reminiscent of a character from Mad Max, gathered at a razor wire fence where some engaged with U.S. Border Patrol, as others sat and watched the events unfold.  

tijuana caravan nov 25 17657tijuana caravan nov 25 17657Refugees Tijuana, Mexico on Nov. 25, 2018 - Photo by Columbia SC photographer Sean Rayford

I’m not sure what would have happened had they been allowed to continue what was a peaceful march across the bridge, but from my perspective and knowledge of crowd logistics, it appears that leaders had once again failed the people who had travelled some 3,000 miles - because of a long and complicated history of leaders failing them. All I really know is that the caravan is an exponentially complex scenario, created by failures within leadership from the entire world, exasperated by false statements and/or lies from the president of the United States, that has led to Sunday's chain of events with many other flashpoint dominoes along the way. 

Note: The title of this post has been edited from Complexities of the Central American Refugee Caravan" to "Complexities of the Central American Caravan" to better describe makeup of the group.

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