Migrants have long streamed out of Central America in large numbers, increasingly as family units, in attempts to flee poverty and violence.
The “Northern Triangle” of Central America — Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador —rank among the most violent in the world, though homicide rates have fallen in recent years. Drug cartels move illegal merchandise through the region and street gangs control neighborhoods and routinely charge residents “rent” (a euphemism for extortion payments).
Caravans of migrants regularly convene as participants seek safety in numbers. Undocumented migrants transiting Mexico often fall victim to crimes such as kidnapping, extortion and rape — often committed by criminal gangs, drug cartels, coyotes and crooked public officials.
Analysts say most migrants are not dissuaded by the risk of the road and ignore admonishments from the U.S. government, or anti-immigrant sentiments that appear to be more prevalent in the country, because the situation is that dire in their own countries.
“Many Hondurans are or were leaving behind gang or domestic violence in marginalized neighborhoods, where government services are lacking and the day to day life may be controlled by the dominant gang,” said Stephanie Leutert director of the Mexico Security Initiative at the Strauss Center at the University of Texas.
The Incas left no doubt that theirs was a sophisticated, technologically savvy civilization. At its height in the 15th century, it was the largest empire in the Americas, extending almost 5000 kilometers from modern-day Ecuador to Chile. These were the people who built Machu Picchu, a royal estate perched in the clouds, and an extensive network of paved roads complete with suspension bridges crafted from woven grass.
…The Incas may not have bequeathed any written records, but they did have colorful knotted cords. Each of these devices was called a khipu (pronounced key-poo). We know these intricate cords to be an abacus-like system for recording numbers. However, there have also been teasing hints that they might encode long-lost stories, myths and songs too.
…Recent breakthroughs have begun to unpick this tangled mystery of the Andes, revealing the first signs of phonetic symbolism within the strands. Now two anthropologists are closing in on the Inca equivalent of the Rosetta stone. That could finally crack the code and transform our understanding of a civilization whose history has so far been told only through the eyes of the Europeans who sought to eviscerate it.