When the first “Migrant Caravan” reached Tijuana in the thousands they were housed in the Benito Juarez Stadium. After several days of heavy rains caused the stadium to flood it became too unsanitary and was deemed unlivable. Many people were forcefully removed by the government to El Barretal – an enclosed concrete concert venue 11 miles away which has become in essence an open-air prison. Families, men and women are separated; the compound is surrounded by armed military personnel; the migrants/refugees do not have freedom or autonomy.
Several hundred people refused to be relocated and chose to live out on the streets outside the stadium for weeks. Eventually, the warehouse near their tent city opened and was organized as a makeshift refugee shelter. Organizers talked of keeping the shelter open for the next wave of caravans on their way from Central America so people would have a safe place to land whenever they reach Tijuana.
On December 29th, hundreds of riot police from the federal and municipal police forces descended upon the warehouse to serve a forceful eviction. The people inside shut the door and locked themselves to the chains preventing the authorities from entering. Lawyers for the migrants/refugees went to work in the courts to try and get a stay on the eviction.
On January 4th, federal police again came to serve an eviction – but this time the Contra Viento y Marea had decided to make a stand and demand that their human rights be respected. American volunteer observers were present inside the warehouse at the request of the Contra Viento y Marea along with members of the press outside the warehouse which created pressure on the Federal Police to treat the group fairly.
The occupation lasted 6 days until an agreement was reached. The group would be allowed to stay together – to not be separated or sent to El Barretal – and wouldn’t move too far away from the nearest Port of Entry. Once their conditions had been met they ended the occupation and moved as a group to the Agape Mission Mundial, a more suitable living environment only four miles away.
Viva La Resistencia! 🖤 Contra Viento Y Marea
Artwork by @ashlukadraws