By Maria Clara Farias
Exchange student from Brazil at UC Berkeley. Member of Current Affairs Committee.
However, there are many migrant stories you haven’t heard yet. They are stories of undocumented workers from Latin America who migrated to the US and faced abuse in the workplace, but could not speak up because they were scared of deportation. They are stories of latin americans, fleeing from violent drug cartels, massacred en route to the United States.
At this year’s General Assembly, the refugee and migrant crisis was a major issue. Latin American presidents had a lot to say about this topic, seeing as it affects each country individually.
The President of Brazil, Michel Temer, highlighted the new bill on migration that is currently in the process of being approved by Congress. This new piece of legislation will provide aid for Haitian and Syrians who have fled to Brazil.
The President of El Salvador, Salvador Sanchez Ceren, declared that Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were part of a joint action plan to aid refugees in the region. Sanchez Ceren also made an appeal to the developed countries at the UN: that migrants from Latin America be respected.
You might be wondering why Latin American countries are so committed to this issue. First of all, it is a human rights issue that concerns everyone, seeing as it is the international community’s responsibility to respond to the most vulnerable.
However, there is another big reason why Latin America should pay close attention to the UN’s recent activity regarding refugee and migrant rights: this is the first time they are talking about it. Now that a refugee crisis is happening in Europe, countries like the U.S., Germany, France and the U.K. are choosing to talk about refugee and migrant rights.
The question then becomes: what took so long? Where were these discussions in recent years, when about 28.5 million Latin American and Caribbean people were emigrating to these countries without fancy meetings at the U.N to speak up for our human rights?
Now that this issue has become relevant to the “bosses” at the UN, they have decided to talk about it. Although this should have happened a long time ago, we should take advantage of this opportunity to discuss the development of human rights for all displaced people.
More than anything, we need to reverse the negative connotation that comes with the word “migrant”. Truth be told, there are very few things in this world as noble and brave as leaving your home behind to seek better opportunities for yourself and your family.