Refugee odyssey photographing Mexico’s Viacrucis Migrante

Refugee odyssey  photographing Mexico's Viacrucis Migrante

May 16, 2018 | More from Food Trends | Tags: , , , , ,

Refugee odyssey photographing Mexico’s Viacrucis Migrante

The Guardian speaks to photographer Edgard Garrido who travelled across Mexico with the Viacrucis Migrante convoy of central American people

The travelling caravan is an annual event that has been held around Easter since 2010. It aims to highlight the dangers migrants face, rather than to necessarily cross the border into the US, although many were expected to apply for asylum at the border. The final group of about 200 people were stopped in Tijuana with border authorities stating they could not accommodate them.

Edgard’s route

The Reuters photographer Edgard Garrido joined the caravan route and filed an impressive body of work from the journey. The stops made along the way are shown in the map above; Matas Romero, Puebla, Mexico City, Tultitln, Celaya, Irapuato, Tlaquepaque, Guadalajara, Mazatln, Hermosillo, San Luis Ro Colorado, Mexicali and, finally Tijuana.


  • People sleep aboard a bus bound for Puebla in Matas Romero, 5 April.

Many left homes in Honduras and El Salvador months before and joined the caravan for safety and solidarity. The number of people in the caravan had swollen to more than 1,000 when conservative US media outlets reported the invasion, prompting a furious response from the US president, Donald Trump. He called the migrants dangerous, ordered national guard troops to the border and demanded funding for a wall.



  • Jos, 7, travels on an open wagon of a freight train, 14 April; right, waking up near the San Ysidro checkpoint, two weeks later, 30 April.

Edgard spoke about people he met along the route: I greeted a particular family from El Salvador every day, Mrs Lucia, her seven-year old son Jos and her sister Carla. Jos was a cheerful kid, he laughed all day, asked to use my camera and played with everything: paper, a wooden stick or a stone. His father was killed by the gangs and an older sister was forced to be the jaina (girlfriend) of a gang member. He became a symbol to me for what the caravan meant, in his innocent way he was exuberant and oblivious to the hardship of the trip. As were so many other members of the caravan.


  • A demonstration at Angel de la Independencia monument in Mexico City, 12 April.


  • Hope in Tlaquepaque. A taxi ride before embarking on a new leg of the journey.

Generally, people would approach me and just talk, I believe they could sense a commitment from my side and they seemed to value it. The days were long, there was enough time to chat and photograph. Everything was flowing naturally.


  • Waiting next to the railway to try to board a freight train in Irapuato, 16 April.

The Guardian asks Garrido to pick his favourite image from the assignment:

This is a difficult one, but this image is my favourite. When you are standing in front of a situation that makes a good photograph, your heart and your head tell you. This is what I felt instantly in this moment.


  • Favourite shot: A woman holds a bag as she and fellow migrants cross a railway line to board a freight train in Irapuato, Guanajuato state, 17 April.

The atmosphere created by the light, the dirt, the train and that suitcase turned the image to be simply cinematographic, a movie right in front of my nose. It was the train of the exodus, a natural image in black and white, a part of human history, repeating itself over and over again. Migration, the flow of people around the world.


  • Members of the caravan wait to enter the US border and customs facility in Tijuana, 29 April.

How do you feel the caravan story is different this year to previous years? Is it the presence of Trump in the White House and his emphasis on the Mexican border, or do you think there are wider issues?

For me this caravan represented the constant exodus of people coming from Central America, Haiti, Cuba or even Africa travelling through Mexico to reach the US. Especially Central Americans, who in an endless stream cross Mexico on foot, by bus or train all year long, pushed by common denominators, the uncontrollable violence by organised crime and the lack of any norms that could allow a decent life in their countries.


  • A bus rides past the border fence between Mexico and the US in Tijuana, 29 April; right, a child with a message for Trump near the San Ysidro checkpoint, 30 April.