Around 4,000 Central American migrants will remain in Juchitán, Oaxaca today as they attempt to organize mass transportation to Mexico City.
At a meeting last night, members of the first and largest of the three migrant caravans now in Mexico formed a committee to negotiate with authorities to try to secure buses to take the weary migrants to the capital.
The mainly Honduran migrants, including many women and children, are currently camped out at a disused bus station in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec city that last year was ravaged by a powerful 8.2-magnitude earthquake.
Water tanks were set up at the site to allow the travelers to bathe and a giant screen projected soccer matches, children’s shows and the movie Coco.
Most members of the caravan slept on the ground on blankets or cardboard with tarps tied to foliage providing only rudimentary protection.
“We are waiting to see if they are going to help us out with buses to continue the trip,” 27-year-old Honduran farmer Omar López told the Associated Press.
Red Cross personnel today bandaged López’s feet, left badly-swollen after walking on highways through Guatemala and Mexico every day for the past two weeks and sleeping exposed to the elements with nothing more than a thin sheet of plastic for cover.
If Mexican authorities do provide transportation — as yet they have provided no indication that they will — caravan representatives said they will travel to Mexico City to meet with federal lawmakers.
Most migrants intend to continue their journey towards the United States border after stopping in the capital despite threats from U.S. President Trump that they won’t be welcome when they arrive.
Trump continued his hardline rhetoric against the Central American migrants today, writing on Twitter:
“Our military is being mobilized at the Southern Border. Many more troops coming. We will NOT let these caravans, which are also made up of some very bad thugs and gang members, into the U.S. Our Border is sacred, must come in legally. TURN AROUND!”
Mexican authorities are treading a fine line between trying to avoid upsetting the United States government and treating the migrants in accordance with international humanitarian obligations.
During the caravan’s first week in Mexico, Federal Police sometimes forced migrants off paid minibuses, citing insurance regulations, and stopped trucks from giving the Central Americans rides.
However, in recent days officials have helped organize transportation for straggling women and children and police have stood by as migrants clambered onto passing trucks.
The Secretariat of the Interior (Segob) said in a statement yesterday that two Honduran men who requested entry to Mexico were found to have arrest warrants against them in their country of origin, one for suspected homicide, the other for drug offenses.
The two, who were arrested in Chiapas, were deported to Honduras. Segob said the men were part of the migrant caravan but didn’t specify which.
Despite Trump’s repeated claims that criminals are part of the migrant caravans, reporters traveling with the Central Americans and migrant advocates have denied that to be the case.
Asked about the U.S. president’s hardline stance on immigration, Honduran migrant Levin Guillén said “according to what they say, we are not going to be very welcome at the border” before adding “but we are going to try.”
The 23-year-old farmer from Corinto, Honduras, said that he had received threats in his homeland from the same people who killed his father 18 years ago.
Guillén hopes to find an aunt who lives in Los Angeles, where he hopes he will have the opportunity to live and work in peace.
“We just want a way to get to our final goal, which is the border,” he said.
Carlos Enrique Carcamo, a 50-year-old boat mechanic who is part of the second migrant caravan, echoed that sentiment although he added that if it doesn’t work out, there is also a Plan B.
“Continue on to the United States, that is the first objective,” he said. “But if that’s not possible, well, permission here in Mexico to work or stay here.”
Source: Associated Press (sp)