I Want to Live Freely: A Honduran Asylum-Seeker in Mexico

On the route north through Mexico there are hostels where Central American asylum-seekers and migrants can stay without fear of arrest or attacks by criminals. In recent years, hundreds of thousands of individuals from Central America have fled to escape extreme violence and brutality, the majority from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

The high levels of violence and murder rates in these countries are comparable to war zones around the world. According to the Migration Policy Institute, the U.S. and Mexico have apprehended nearly one million asylum-seekers from Central America, including more than 40,000 children since 2010. Gang violence, forced initiation of children into criminal gangs, sexual violence, kidnapping and extortion by gangs are every day realities that have made it unbearable for so many in Central America to live in their own countries.

Lenard*, from Honduras, is at a hostel in southern Mexico where he has applied for asylum.

A rooster is viewed in a gang infested neighborhood on July 18, 2012 in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Honduras at the time had the highest per capita murder rate in the world. Its capital city, Tegucigalpa, is plagued by violence, poverty, homelessness and sexual assaults. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

I was born in a village and grew up in a city. The city is pretty, but there are many problems due to the maras (gangs), due to the current lack of jobs in my country.

I used to work delivering Avon products, and later, fixing computers and cell phones. But due to the bad economy, the money in my country began disappearing.

I liked my job. But each day, I only went from home to work, and I did not like that I did not live freely. I did not want to be known. I was not me back then.

I am homosexual, I am gay. I was discriminated against a lot for being gay.

I requested asylum [in Mexico] because a gang member told me to leave Honduras, because if I didn’t something bad was going to happen.

The hardest thing I left behind were my family, my nieces who I liked a lot, my friends, family and friends.

Asylum is, as I understand it, it is permission, the status to be here in Mexico. To legally be here in Mexico and you can move around and look for work.

According to Immigration and [Mexico’s] laws, asylum is given to persons who are threatened in their home country. And people who suffer from racism, people who are discriminated against.

With asylum I want to work. I want to be someone. I want to live freely. I want to be myself. That is why I want asylum.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) seeks to generate awareness for the plight of the 65.3 million people who have been forcibly displaced, including asylum-seekers from Central America. The Forced From Home interactive exhibition and public awareness campaign is currently touring the East Coast.

September, 2016: Inside the 360 degree dome, tour groups view stories from refugees, asylum seekers, and displaced persons around the world. Photo: Edwin Torres