Pigliucci, Caley. 2019. The Forgotten Migrants of Central America. Inter Press Service 12 June <http://www.ipsnews.net/2019/06/forgotten-migrants-central-america/>.
Elizabeth Kennedy, a researcher with Human Rights Watch (HRW) based in Honduras, told IPS, “When we talk about climate change, we have to think about historical and social factors that leave certain groups more impacted than others…many of the people who farm and fish on the lands most vulnerable to climate change have been historically mistreated.”
“Realizing that those most impacted are indigenous is critical, because it hasn’t been part of the main stream conversation, and it needs to be,” Kennedy added.
However, Kennedy emphasized that “Indigeneity is a protected factor, and that is a reason to claim asylum.” But she warns that in the case of migration from Central America, “many people around the US, including lawyers are not aware that they need to be looking at historic and systemic inclusion.”
She added that this is true “even in Guatemala and Honduras. This is in fact demonstrative that the state doesn’t take it seriously.”
Researchers, like Kennedy, are frustrated as they see little data and few programs that help indigenous and rural people which also take into account the fraught history that indigenous people have in Central America, a place where a number of massacres occurred in 1996 and many are still recovering from the violence.
Kennedy said there are six indigenous groups in Honduras and over 30 in Guatemala, but she expressed her desire to see “updated statistics on the various indigenous groups.”
Alongside the increase of internal migration and external migration among youth, Kennedy also sees an increase in family units migrating away from Guatemala and Honduras in recent years, which, she says, “shows that more is happening than needing to just provide economic stability to the home.”
Kennedy worries that not enough is being done. “They need targeted programs, they need targeted statistics, and these are not provided,” she said.