If Caravaners Are Fleeing Starvation, Isn't It Odd This Migrant's Calling Free Food Slop for 'Pigs'?


Breathless, unbelievably heartbreaking coverage on the Honduran-centric caravan working its way up through Mexico from Time magazine, Oct. 21:

“Nelson Uribe, 20, told TIME how gangsters murdered his brother and then threatened him for being a witness in the city of Comayagua,” Time reported. “‘I was hiding in my house, terrified to go out. The caravan gave me a chance to leave,’ he said. However, others cite poverty and hunger, especially following recent price hikes. ‘We just can’t afford to live. It was a question of leaving or slowly starving to death,’ said Orisa Fernandez, 40.”

Time magazine didn’t have much, well, time to talk about the problems and externalities caused by the caravan or the precedent it would set, but there was a lot of prose so empurpled I swore I was watching a Colorado Rockies victory parade. (Opening line: “Lining up on the rocky bank of the Suchiate river, which runs along Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala, a thronging crowd from the migrant caravan shouted to their companions squatting on the international bridge…”)

These individuals are starving to death, Time notes. Just don’t expect them to be wholly grateful when they’re given free food.

Deutsche Welle’s Spanish-language service, DW Español, traveled to Tijuana, Mexico. The border city has become ground zero for caravan coverage over the past few days as the first wave of members arrives, and some of the locals were enraged.

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Upon reviewing this report, The Daily Caller’s Benny Johnson noticed something curious. (Note: The video is in Spanish. The relevant part is translated below.)

In one of the segments, DW reporters interviewed caravan members inside migrant camps in the city. A woman complained about the food being given to them, comparing it to slop.

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“The truth is, the food that they’re handing out here is terrible,” the unidentified woman said, holding up the container of food.

“Look at what they’re giving us. Refried beans, as if they were feeding the pigs. And the truth is, we don’t have any other options. If we don’t eat this, we will die of hunger.”

OK, first, we must note that this is an incredibly limited sample size. Last we reported on this, roughly 3,000 people had already arrived in Tijuana from the caravan. That makes this one woman’s take officially the opinion of 0.3 percent of the caravan members in Tijuana. Up to 10,000 caravan members are expected, so that sample size is going to be further diluted.

Yes, the food in refugee camps is generally terrible, especially when those refugee camps can’t be planned. Most major cities, no matter what their size, cannot just absorb 10,000 individuals with limited resources. In addition to food, there are concerns over shelter, security, sanitary facilities, those sorts of things.

If fleeing starvation and arriving in Tijuana on a moment’s notice in order to hope the free food to be of a high culinary caliber is your plan A to escape malnutrition, I hesitate to even wonder what plan B was.

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There is an incongruity here, and I’d just as soon as not point it out, but point it out I will: People dying of starvation with no other options in their home country because of persecution generally aren’t seen making these complaints.

There are several interpretations one can infer from this. I will leave them to you to infer. I will merely say that I tried to give her the ultimate benefit of the doubt here — that all of this woman’s motives in participating in this caravan and asking for asylum were pure in toto — and found it eminently difficult to do so based on this clip.

This is the smallest sample size you can ask for — a solitary woman. As conservatives, it confirms our in-built biases, which means we should be careful into making her a synecdoche for the entire caravan. However, in a pointillistic narrative of the caravan, this is yet another dot of paint that reveals a picture wholly different from the stock narrative.

This was supposed to be a fake political narrative only hypernationalistic conservatives cared about — namely, the Trump administration, which got taken to task by Jim Acosta for even using the word “caravan” in a very, very infamous clip.

To liberals, this interpretation was pure racism against Central and South Americans — except for the residents of Tijuana, who are Mexican and not particularly jazzed over how this has progressed.

This was said to be spontaneous — except for the anti-American Honduran socialist leaders who have openly said they’re behind it. This was all about ordinary people fleeing unbearable conditions and asking for asylum — except for those with criminal backgrounds, and those who admitted they were fleeing because of economic reasons, and those who said they were asking for asylum for other reasons not covered under asylum law.

This, in short, is complicated. We won’t hear that over the next few days. What we’ll hear is stories of heartache, juxtaposed with stock footage of Donald Trump looking angry.

Anger over refried beans doesn’t refute this, but it’s a sign that this — like so many other things in our political life — is messy. It needs to be covered as such.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture