The mayor Chahuites, a town of about 10,000 in Oaxaca -- one of Mexico’s southernmost states -- has been dubbed the “Trump of Oaxaca” by local activists because he wants to shut down a hostel that receives migrants who are seeking to go north toward the United States. The town is on the route used by migrants from Central America and elsewhere who enter Oaxaca from neighboring Chiapas, the state that is adjacent to the border of the Republic of Guatemala.
Currently, hundreds of migrants pass through the refuge in Chahuites, where they rest before going further. Mayor Leobardo Ramos Lázaro has described the migrants as “rebellious.” He also alleges that their behavior has become intolerable. According to his Facebook page, Ramos wrote, “Who wants disciples who use drugs, who come into your homes without permission, who get into fights with each other and put the lives of others at risk?”
In response, Rev. Alejandro Solalinde -- a Catholic priest who founded a migrant hostel in nearby Ixtepec -- posted on Twitter, “The Donald Trump of Oaxaca has arisen for wanting to shut down the migrant hostel in Chahuites…” The hostel Solalinde founded is called “Brothers on the Road.”
The refuge in Chahuites is an extension of Solalinde’s facility in Ixtepec, which is a city of about 24,000 residents, many of whom speak indigenous languages. Every day, according to local reports, dozens of migrants from Central America go to the refuge, seeking a place to rest, eat, and recuperate. Many of them arrive after having hopped on “The Beast” -- a train that departs from near the border of Guatemala and heads north. Migrants ride on the roofs of freight cars on The Beast. Many have been maimed or killed on the route that passes through Chalchihuites.
One of the founders of the refuge in Chahuites acknowledged that not all of the migrants there are well-behaved. Alberto Donis Rodríguez said that Ramos called him for meeting and told him that he wanted the refuge closed because of reports of a crime wave there. Ramos said that local families signed a petition to shut the facility down. “We have seen many shirtless migrants, taking drugs and fighting each other. Chalchihuites is no longer like it was. Children can’t play in the street because of the lack of security,” he said.
Ramos called on the activists to take the refuge to the outskirts of town so as to limit migrants’ contact with natives. He said he is expecting an answer from both Solalinde and Donis within one month about the removal of the refuge. “If they don’t relocate it,” Ramos said, “I’ll have to call on the neighbors to shut it down.”