Author Archives: kvschlechter

Time Goes by So Slowly

Posted by Katie Schlechter – MA Candidate at CLACS / Global Journalism at NYU

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A man from Honduras helps prep nopales for the kitchen at La Casa del Migrante Saltillo. (Photo: Katie Schlechter)

At this point in my research/reporting trip, I’ve visited five different migrant shelters in four different states. I’ve spent time in shelters just a few hours drive from the US-Mexico border and I’ve been in casas 45 minutes from Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala. One thing I’ve found at every single shelter is boredom, and the occasional wave of desperation that comes with being stuck in one place for a long period of time.

The boredom hits different people for different reasons. In the Casa del Migrante in Saltillo, for example, migrants are not allowed to leave the shelter during the day except for work. This is for security reasons, as the northern region of the country is full of Zeta operatives and scammers who specialize in tricking migrants into letting them be their “guide.” The rule is supposed to limit the daily traffic of people in and out of the casa.

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Considering CNTE Blockades in Chiapas

Posted by Katie Schlechter – MA Candidate at CLACS / Global Journalism at NYU

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Trucks halted by the CNTE teachers’ union blockade on a highway in northern Chiapas. (Photo: Katie Schlechter)

To get to the La 72 migrant shelter in Tenosique, Mexico, I had to fly to Villahermosa, and then take a bus across the state, passing through the northern tip of Chiapas near along the way. Upon arrival in Tabasco, I learned that many buses weren’t taking this route due to highway blockades in the Chiapas portion of the highway.

The blockades are part of the unrest that has rocked southern Mexico since I arrived at the beginning of June. The largest teacher’s union in the region, the CNTE, has been taking to the streets to protest education reform measures recently taken up by the government. The discussion here is similar to education reform debates in the United States: one side says that many teachers are not effective and should therefore be evaluated based on the performance of their students on standardized tests and the other side criticizes the state for cutting funding to education and sees the reforms as a way to shift the blame of a struggling education system from the state’s lack of resource allocation to the professional shortcomings of the teachers.

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“La Bestia” and La Casa del Migrante Saltillo

Posted by Katie Schlechter – MA Candidate at CLACS / Global Journalism at NYU

In Saltillo the presence of the migrant feels more present than it does in Mexico City, but also somehow a bit tucked away. On my first walk around the hot city the afternoon that I arrived, I could already hear the trains. “La Bestia” runs right through here, mostly carrying migrants towards the border with Texas—from here it’s only a three and a half hour drive to Laredo without traffic. Yet some migrants are also catching the train south, after a serious injury or an inability to pay the “cuota” to cartel groups in order to continue their journey north forced them to backtrack.

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Train tracks less than a block away from the Casa del Migrante Saltillo in northern Mexico. (Photo: Katie Schlechter)

The train horns carry on throughout the night and I can hear them from the room where I’m staying near the center of town. As it gets later and the traffic noise dies down, I can actually hear train wheels click-clacking and screeching as they pull in and out of the main station a few blocks away. La Casa del Migrante Saltillo is a thirty minute hike down Calle Alvaro Obregón—a sweaty walk that I was disappointed to find offers none of the typical plethora of street food options I’m accustomed to in Mexico City. A panadería was my best bet for breakfast, and shortly after shelling out eight pesos for a few pineapple empanadas, I was turning off Obregón towards the shelter next to the train tracks.

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