More Hondurans Leaving Their Country To Find Work

The political crisis in the central American nation of Honduras is affecting the entire region. Most international aid to Honduras has been suspended and the country's borders have been intermittently shut since the June coup. Officials who work with migrants in southern Mexico say the turmoil is pushing more and more Hondurans to emigrate.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Let's report next about Honduras, where a coup in June created a political crisis. The deposed president, Manuel Zelaya, remains holed up in the Brazilian embassy. The man who ousted him says that his administration is attempting to negotiate a settlement, but despite weeks of talks there's no resolution this morning.

Most international aid to Honduras has been suspended and the country's borders have been intermittently shut since the coup. This turmoil is also pushing more and more Hondurans to immigrate - leave the country - and many are turning up in southern Mexico, as NPR's Jason Beaubien reports.

JASON BEAUBIEN: Teenage boys are slipping away from home and heading north. Mothers are sending their young children to live with relatives. Unemployed garment workers are trying to walk across the continent to look for work outside Honduras. Just across the Guatemalan border, in the Mexican city of Tapachula, Hector Amelio Arrayla(ph) says he left because there's too much unemployment right now in Honduras.

Mr. HECTOR AMELIO ARRAYLA: (Spanish spoken)

BEAUBIEN: You can't find any kind of work at the moment, he says, not in houses, not in small businesses, not in big companies, not at markets. Everywhere - there's just no work right now in Honduras.

Amelio came to Mexico in September and quickly found a job as a cook. Things in Honduras are so bad that to Amelio this beaten down Mexican border town looks quite good. He's worried that if he tries to go all the way to the United States he might not be able to cross the border or he might get robbed along the way or he might get deported soon after he arrives. So Amelio plans to stay in Mexico.

Mr. ARRAYLA: (Spanish spoken)

BEAUBIEN: Here in Mexico there's work, he says. You have to have some skills. I can cook in a restaurant or a hotel, and you can get that work here in Mexico.

Tapachula is awash currently in Hondurans, many intent on getting to the United States. Father Flor Maria(ph), who runs a shelter here called the Casa del Immigrante(ph), says there's been an overall drop in the number of Central Americans migrating north. He says this is mainly due to the economic downturn in the U.S. But since the June coup, he says there's been an increase in the number of Hondurans.

Father FLOR MARIA: (Spanish spoken)

BEAUBIEN: The change that we are seeing with the Honduran migrants, or at least a part of them, Father Flor says, is that they're leaving without any plan. They haven't really thought about getting to the United States. They're just fleeing Honduras.

Thirty-four-year-old Alex Mungia(ph) from San Pedro Sula is one of them.

Mr. ALEX MUNGIA: (Spanish spoken)

BEAUBIEN: The situation is really critical right now in Honduras, he says. The situation with our president, the coup, it's a mess. And he says it's the ordinary people who suffer. So after losing his job at a maquiladora, Mungia is setting out on a hazardous 1,600 mile journey towards the U.S. to look for work.

Jason Beaubien, NPR News.

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