Wilmer Rodriguez’s mother, Lesly Madariaga, spent a sleepless night looking for him on the streets of Nueva Suyapa, a poor neighborhood in the hills surrounding the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa.
However, she had no luck: Like thousands of other young Hondurans trying to reach the US in search of work, Rodriguez and a friend had stolen away in secret.
It was February last year, but a month later he was back home. Rodriguez, then 17, only got to Mexico before he was picked up by the authorities and returned to Honduras.
“I want to go again. I still have the desire and it won’t leave my head until I pull it off,” Rodriguez said. “If they catch me one, two, three, four, five times again, I’ll still keep trying because my dream is to support my family.”
In a country experiencing deep economic woes and rampant violence, and where more than half of the population of 10 million people lives in poverty, thousands expose themselves to the many risks of migration, not least from human traffickers and extortionists.
The trip can be a costly and fruitless exercise.
A report showed that Central American migrants spend about US$2.2 billion per year trying to reach the US, most of which is paid to traffickers.
About 50,000 Honduran migrants have so far this year been sent back home, official figures showed.
Hondurans are to head to the polls on Sunday to elect a successor to President Juan Orlando Hernandez.
After 12 years of the Nationalist Party, some see in former Honduran first lady Xiomara Castro an opportunity for change.
However, not Rodriguez — his dream remains resolute.
“I don’t have much faith in politicians because the truth is, they’re all liars,” the 18-year-old said.
He puts his faith in his ability to become “one of the great” barbers of the world — in the US.
Upon his return to Honduras, Rodriguez trained to cut hair and is now employed at his neighborhood’s La Bendicion salon.
At the salon, the barber capes feature the US stars and stripes — if ever Rodriguez needed more encouragement.
He has not told his mother as much, but she suspects that he still wants to reach the US.
“I wouldn’t want to go through that process again,” she said. “I wouldn’t want him to run that risk.”
She believes “God always provides food,” but knows that today’s dreamers want more.
“The youngsters leave for a better life because there is no work here in Honduras,” she said.
Rodriguez’s house measures no more than 20m2, but a dozen family members are crammed into its two rooms.
In the bedroom, blankets provide makeshift dividing walls. Rodriguez sleeps atop a bunk bed, his mother and sister below. He earns money now, but not enough.
“It’s something, but just for me — not to support 12 people,” he said.
Rodriguez said that young people in the neighborhood are attracted to crime and “easy things,” such as selling drugs, although he has always resisted.
“My goal is to work... My house is my goal too. I know that one day I will build it,” Rodriguez said.
Two-year-old Xu Haoyang (徐灝洋) has likely just months to live — but the only medicine that can help his rare genetic condition is not found anywhere in China and closed borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic mean that he cannot travel for treatment. Instead, his desperate father, Xu Wei (徐偉), has created a home laboratory to create a remedy for the boy himself. “I didn’t really have time to think about whether to do it or not. It had to be done,” the 30-year-old said from his DIY lab in an apartment building in southwestern Kunming. Haoyang has Menkes syndrome, a genetic disorder
WIDE REOPENING DISCOURAGED: A study from Peking University has suggested that lifting restrictions in the style of the US, UK and others would be catastrophic China would face a “colossal outbreak” on a scale beyond anything any other country has yet seen if it were to reopen in a similar manner to the US. That is a prediction based on statistical modeling by researchers at Beijing’s Peking University. A switch from China’s current COVID-19 elimination strategy to a US-style approach with few restrictions would lead to as many as 637,155 infections per day, according to the study, which was published by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday. That would be the largest daily figure reported by any country since the start of the
BURNING, LOOTING: The demonstrators called for Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare to step down over failure to deliver infrastructure, among other complaints Solomon Islands police yesterday fired tear gas in the capital, Honiara, as crowds of protesters set fire to buildings, including a police station, and looted shops in an eruption of anger at the government, Radio New Zealand (RNZ) reported. The protest was led by people from the Pacific nation’s largest island, Malaita Province, about 120km from the capital. They were demanding that Solomon Island Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare step down over failure to deliver promised infrastructure among other complaints, RNZ said. The protest began peacefully, but most schools and businesses in Honiara were closed by the afternoon as crowds tried to enter the
MOBS, TEAR GAS: Anti-government protests deteriorated and led to looting and arson, as the Pacific nation’s PM said he regretted a return to the country’s ‘dark days’ Rioters torched buildings in the Solomon Islands’ capital of Honiara yesterday, targeting the city’s Chinatown district in a second day of anti-government protests. Eyewitnesses and local media reported that crowds had defied a government lockdown to take to the streets. Live images showed several buildings engulfed in flames and plumes of thick black smoke billowing high above the capital. It followed widespread disorder on Wednesday, when demonstrators attempted to storm parliament and depose Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare. Businesses operated by Honiara’s Chinese community were looted and burned, prompting Beijing’s embassy to express “serious concerns” to the Solomons’ government. The embassy “made representations