Walking with migrant peoples as epistemological processes. The experience of Voces Mesoamericanas (2020)

Aldo Jorge Ledón Pereyra (member of Voces Mesoamericanas)

Edition and translation by Gerardo Rodriguez Solis

Actions: defense, self-organization, childhood-youth and agricultural work

The main actions of Voces Mesoamericanas are through the programs. One has to do with the defense program: everything that is access to justice for migrants, refugee processes, search for missing persons, people living in critical situations, migrants who are in prison, who die, and support their families also to this access to justice in Mexico.

Another program has to do with self-organizing processes. We call on migrant peoples to make an in-depth analysis of the structural causes of migration, the problems that people face, and how to strengthen the transnational relationship of families that, for example, are already in the United States with the communities that remain.

One more program would be that of migrant children and youth, in which girls, boys, and young people have a voice. They are the main actors in migration, and they have a lot to say. They have a lot to contribute to their community. Migrations impact them in an identity way, in a differentiated way. They seek to change the power relations, the community relations from which they have lived, which question them today, which today propose new things, but which are not always well received because they are young. It seems that being young is being a synonym for not having the ability to contribute, but in reality, they do. So, a central focus at Voces Mesoamericanas has been working with children and youth.

One more program is about agricultural workers. More or less, three million people from the states of Oaxaca, Chiapas, and Guerrero move each year to the northwest of the country to work in agricultural fields. A large part comes from the state of Chiapas, in which we place the need to be able to dignify the worker, not only of the work environments but of all the dynamics that workers live in these places.

All this is done from a communicative strategy, from a psychosocial strategy, and, obviously, from an administrative strategy. In this way, the work of Voces Mesoamericanas has been composed.

The organizational processes and epistemic contributions of Voces

We understand migration from a broad dynamic: the origin, the transit of these people to the destination when they manage to reach this destination and return. One approach in Voces is to talk about forced migration and forced displacement based on not having the minimum conditions to stay in your place. At Voces, we try to work from two perspectives: the right to roots or the right for people to have conditions to stay; and the right also to be able to move to other places without implying the loss of life, which would be one of the most tragic scenarios that occur in Mexico today.

We place the work of Voces Mesoamericanas first in the organizational processes with the social base. Second, we develop work methodologies with these organizational processes from a logic of popular education and pedagogy of the subject. Third, we seek that from all these processes research materials are generated, quantitative and qualitative contributions from the perspective of migration are one of our epistemic contributions, one of our contributions to all the work done in the investigations. Last is incidence; It is there where I could highlight that precisely the work with the construction of a dignified life and the rooted conditions go hand in hand based on these four elements.

From working with the social base, we generate efficient work methodologies, generate investigative processes, and generate advocacy processes. We can generate possible structural changes, but profound ones from the same conformation of society in terms of migration. Step by step, they are promoting public policy spaces.

The creation and use of quantitative data in Voces Mesoamericanas

The use of statistical tools has been one of the great learnings at Voces. For example, for the entire issue of immigration detention in southern Mexico and that has helped us to be able to bring reports with a level of in-depth information about the impacts that women, girls, and boys are experiencing, based on their ethnic origin or nationality. So, this allows us to somehow account for what are the problems these people face. We have transformed this information into reports that we can take to the Inter-American System to take to the Universal System of Human Rights. That allows us to carry out processes of profound influence.

Also, on agricultural day laborers, we have researched the comparisons of the earnings of an agricultural field in one year of production compared to all the wages paid to agricultural workers in these fields. Then, we could say that it is not even 10% of the profit. So, it helps us measure inequalities. It helps us measure impact factors, and it also helps us project what could be the impacts not only of the place of destination but also the impacts that families will experience from following this type of work slave.

In this way, we would rescue a little what the importance of these elements has been. In the end, one of the significant challenges for Voces is in what way these reports in these investigations can or do we have the ability to have the voice of people from the social base in these reports that could be somewhat distant or not represent them? Because for us, bringing these people’s voices to these different platforms, to these different systems, to these different spaces for a global discussion of human rights, is one of the primary factors. We could have from the construction of processes of a dignified life and work focused on the defense of human rights of migrants.