Sgt Conchita Lopez, 28, is considered one of 10 policewomen within the border city of Tapachula in Mexico’s southern Chiapas state. For six years she has been a member of the Mexican State Border Police.
Tapachula lies 32km (20 miles) from the border with Guatemala and is an entry level for a lot of migrants fleeing violence and poverty in Central America.
Sgt Lopez has 5 sisters and 5 brothers, considered one of whom is within the Marines. “I stored making an attempt to get in, however there was by no means an area for me so I did personal safety for some time after which joined the police,” she explains her profession alternative. She is the one feminine member of her household to affix the pressure.
Because the sergeant accountable for the patrol she has to arrange all of her package earlier than setting off. “I am a part of a police unit that appears after the rights of migrants crossing the border,” explains Sgt Lopez about her position on border with Guatemala.
Sgt Lopez spends a lot of her time on patrol within the streets of Tapachula. “We’ve many lodges and shelters right here which home migrants from locations corresponding to El Salvador and Honduras,” she says.
“We used to have a little bit place within the sq. for ladies who had been trafficked. It is a quite common drawback in Tapachula. It was a spot for them to get authorized recommendation and assist, however it closed down. I would like to do extra to assist them. For the time being I do a chat in a drop-in centre on the border to warn girls in regards to the techniques males use to trick them.”
Though her household lives in the identical city, Sgt Lopez has to remain and sleep within the police station for 4 weeks at a time whereas on obligation.
All of the meals within the station is ready by the law enforcement officials. They work, dwell and eat collectively all through their four-week lengthy shift.
As Sgt Lopez carries on along with her patrol, she comes throughout a younger household dwelling in an outdated railway carriage. The household is from Yucatan in Mexico and are visiting household in Tapachula. They dwell within the empty carriage as a result of they can’t afford a lodge.
The border between Mexico and Guatemala is a well-liked crossing level for migrants making an attempt to achieve the Unites States. They arrive from El Salvador, Honduras, Venezuela and a few from nations additional afield corresponding to Cameroon, Ethiopia and Eritrea.
As Sgt Lopez approaches the river’s edge a person carrying a heavy load turns and walks again to the Guatemalan aspect of the river.
“Some persons are afraid of the police. We all know that there are dangerous law enforcement officials who typically extort cash from individuals bringing items throughout the river,” says Sgt Lopez.
“There was once a checkpoint close by in order that they take this path to keep away from it. It is the place girls have had their items stolen so we commonly examine it.”
Migrants typically comply with the rail tracks to attempt to keep away from checkpoints alongside the route.
“It is actually exhausting for migrants as they arrive to flee from violence and infrequently after they get right here they expertise the identical factor.”
“On my 5 days off I simply get straight into my very own garments and go to my boyfriend. He is cool with me being a police lady.” On her Sundays off Sgt Lopez performs soccer for the Tapachula girls’s group.
“I get to be on the market serving to individuals,” says Sgt Lopez. “I need to assist individuals. I wish to cope with the dangerous guys.”
Alison Baskerville’s journey was supported and funded by the Adelante Fellowship on behalf of the Worldwide Girls’s Media Fund (IWMF).