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Scenes From The Mexico-Guatemala Border
Mexico's border with Guatemala is also teeming with migrants crossing illegally, but the level of violence there is much lower than in the north.
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Mexican officer Hugo Rivera looks out toward the Guatemalan border while . “Mexico’s northern border is more problematic, here it’s pretty peaceful,” he said.
(Nathaniel Parish Flannery)

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As a result of the increase in violence in Central America Mexico has seen an influx of refugees fleeing crime.
(Nathaniel Parish Flannery)

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Visible through the chain-link and barbed wire fence along the bridge that runs from Ciudad Hidalgo to Guatemala, a man pushes a raft across the river. Many migrants avoid passing through customs and use rafts to cross into Mexico.
(Nathaniel Parish Flannery)

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Along the riverbank, rafts crisscross the river as locals and migrants pass informally back and forth between Mexico and Guatemala. Adriana Beltran, a researcher from the Washington Office on Latin America, explained, “You see refugees from Central America fleeing because of violence and organized crime groups getting involved in migrant trafficking.”
(Nathaniel Parish Flannery)

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Saul Antonio Sanchez, a 36-year-old from El Salvador, explained “I had an incident with a gang. I was shot and now I can’t go back to my country.”
(Nathaniel Parish Flannery)

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A truck crosses the border from Guatemala. Mexico has signed a free trade agreement with Central America. The region as a whole, however, remains underdeveloped and highly impoverished.
(Nathaniel Parish Flannery)

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Hugo Rivera, a member of the Chiapas State Police Border Patrol drives towards Ciudad Hidalgo. “We see a lot of cases of Central Americans coming up to rob the migrants. The ones with the tattoos stand out. MS 13, [Barrio] 18, there are a lot of bad guys coming out of El Salvador,” he said.
(Nathaniel Parish Flannery)

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A gang in his neighborhood in El Salvador attacked Saul Antonio Sanchez after he failed to make a payment for “protection.” He was shot several times, including in the neck. He has a bullet lodged in his skull behind his ear and another in his arm. “The Maras started charging rent in 2000, extorting everyone. Now you can’t have a business without them asking for $20 a week,” he explained. “There’s always violence now. Everyday there are deaths,” he added.
(Nathaniel Parish Flannery)

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A Mexican border patrol agent stands alongside the Suchiate River, which runs along the border with Guatemala near Ciudad Hidalgo in Chiapas, Mexico.
(Nathaniel Parish Flannery)

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Irmi Pundt, the caretaker at the Casa del Migrante in Tapachula, said theshelter now caters to women, children and families fleeing violence and immigrating to Mexico and the United States. “Killing is like the national sport in Honduras,” she said.
(Nathaniel Parish Flannery)

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Chiapas, Mexico’s poorest state, is seen as a safe haven for Central Americans fleeing violence in their home countries. Visible from the official bridge that links Ciudade Hidalgo to Guatemala, migrants and locals on rafts cross into Mexico.
(Nathaniel Parish Flannery)

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State police patrol trucks idle by an informal crossing point along the Guatemalan border. Although in recent years drug-cartel related violence has surged in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, Chiapas has remained one of the least violent regions in Mexico. “The reports are that they [organized crime groups] have a presence in Guatemala, but we haven’t had many incidents in Chiapas,” Officer Hugo Rivera explained.
(Nathaniel Parish Flannery)

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Mexican state police stand guard at the border. While criminal organizations have increased their presence in Guatemala, Chiapas has not seen the same increase in violent crime as other parts of the region.
(Nathaniel Parish Flannery)

Scenes From The Mexico-Guatemala Border

Mexico's border with Guatemala is also teeming with migrants crossing illegally, but the level of violence there is much lower than in the north.

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