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Confined to US border camp, Haitian migrants wade to Mexico for supplies

Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

The migrants formed lines outside El Dorado fried chicken, Aguas Frescas shops and the supermarkets. Enterprising locals wheeled carts of ice cream and iced drinks into the park near their informal crossing. Others parked in the fields near migrants’ already well-worn tracks to sell clothes and housewares out of their trunks, shouting prices in pesos.

“Food, chicken, 50!” a vendor shouted, and the man with the ice cream cart soon joined in, “Ice cream, 5!”

“Trash bags!” called a father and son.

“How much?” a migrant still wet from the river asked — 10 pesos, they replied. He bought several.

Hats cost 50 pesos, shorts 120.

“You’re robbing us!” Ismo Dilema complained before buying several bottles of orange soda for 20 pesos, about a dollar each.

 

Dilema, 44, a tall cook with a goatee and blue and white checked shirt, was broke. He had to borrow money from a friend at the camp to feed his wife and two children, carrying the cash across the river in a plastic bag.

“People are buying because they’re starving,” he said before climbing back down the muddy river bank near others toting boxes of pizzas and rice.

Mexican vendors said they were making a slim profit and running steep risks working amid the chaos, where tempers occasionally flared and Mexican police could crack down at any moment.

“We’re worried they could take things,” said vendor Andres Macario, 16, who had been selling drinks to the migrants since they arrived last week.

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