On November 5, 2018 a reporter from Al Jazeera interviewed Billy Noe Martinez, a Honduran immigrant, about why he traveled in a caravan through Mexican territory, to which Martinez responded that he felt safer in a large group of people than by himself.
During the interview, the reporter discovered that Martinez had a dramatic story to tell. Eight years ago, Martinez started his journey by traveling across Mexican soil without documentation. Running from poverty, starvation, and social inequality, Martinez decided to leave Honduras and seek the American dream and a better future for his family that stayed behind. As Martinez told Al Jazeera, his journey suddenly stopped when he met a group of armed men near the US-Mexico border. Members of the Zetas, one of the fiercest Mexican drug cartels, captured Martinez by force. His captors took him and the other migrants he was traveling with to a nearby ranch. After the migrants refused the Zeta members’ demands for ransom, cartel members cartel started the shooting. Seventy-two people from different nationalities were murdered, and Martinez is one of two known survivors. At least 11 people have been charged in connection with the San Fernando massacre, Al Jazeera wrote, but no one has been convicted.
After that unforgettable event and despite his previous experience he is returning to Mexico; he made a firm decision to reach the United States, no matter the cost.
On August 25, 2010, the New York Times published an article that described the massacre that Martinez survived. The Times coverage reported, “It was not clear if the victims, from Central and South America, were shot all at once. The police were relying on a narrowing but sketchy account from a wounded survivor, published by the newspaper Reforma and confirmed by government officials, who said several people were killed in short order after the migrants refused to pay or cooperate with the gunmen.” At the time, the Guardian also published an article on the massacre, based on the account of it provided by one of the survivors.
Source: Sandra Cuffe, “Honduran Survivor of Migrant Massacre Joins Caravan for Safety,” Al Jazeera, November 5, 2018, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/11/181105155703307.html.
Student Researcher: Luisa Rangel (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Sean Baker (Sonoma State University)