Across continents migration scenarios show many similarities, but there are also some regional differences. This article aims to describe what is happening in Central and North America.
When we speak of forced migration, we mean a movement which involves those people who are forced – whatever the legal system of the countries they pass through or aim to reach – to leave their homeland for various reasons, among which violence, natural disasters and lack of employment stand out.
Human mobility, a growing reality
In Central and North America, for many years forced migration or displacement has taken one of two directions. The best known goes from south to north. It started with the Mexican flow, which was later joined by those from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Their common destination is the United States, “the American dream.” In the other direction, north to south, we see mainly Nicaraguans heading for Costa Rica and Panama. At present, these two flows are increasingly mixed, becoming more complex. Those that follow them no longer do so for a single cause, such as violence and lack of work, but for various intertwined reasons, as other causes have been added to the initial ones, such as the ecological situation and the desire for family reunification.
Ecological disruption must be emphasized. In El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico many people are exposed to it, either directly or indirectly, so that this constitutes a factor that leads to emigration. We cannot forget that, as a 2019 survey by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL) explains, between 1917 and 2010 Latin America “was the second continent after Asia most affected by disasters. At the subregional level, most of the upheavals occurred in Central America and the Caribbean, where the most dramatic events took place in terms of deaths, the population affected and material damage. Beyond the disturbing exposure to natural threats this region faces, the impact of such events is accentuated by unresolved socio-economic and environmental vulnerabilities: more specifically, poverty and inequality, environmentally unsustainable development models and deficiencies in planning and urbanization processes.”