A fourth migrant caravan made up of around 2,000 people has arrived at the Guatemalan side of Mexico’s southern border.
The migrants, mainly Salvadorans fleeing poverty and violence, plan to enter Mexico Monday via the same Chiapas border crossing where the other three caravans entered.
The group is mainly made up of young men but there are also smaller numbers of women, children and elderly people.
They are currently camping out in the central square of Tecún Umán, Guatemala, a small town directly across the Suchiate river from Ciudad Hidalgo, Chiapas.
Migrants’ spokesman Ramón Torres said yesterday that they rejected a proposal from Mexican authorities to enter Mexico in small groups in order to register with the National Immigration Institute (INM) and be taken to a shelter in Tapachula.
“That’s a strategy that the Mexican government is using to . . . break up the caravan. But they won’t be able to do it because we’re going to enter all together,” he said, without specifying if they planned to do so legally.
Once in Mexico, the fourth caravan is expected to wait for yet more migrants who are still traveling through Guatemala or have only just left El Salvador.
The first migrant caravan, made up of around 4,000 Central Americans, reached Matías Romero, Oaxaca, yesterday after failing to secure mass transportation to Mexico City.
More than 500 children aged under 10 are suffering from respiratory illnesses, a Oaxaca human rights organization said.
The caravan was planning to travel via Veracruz but Governor Miguel Ángel Yunes Linares sought to dissuade the migrants by saying that state authorities would only offer security and not food or shelter.
“We can’t welcome a significant number of people. There are already migrants in Veracruz who have been here some time, the vast majority are asking for money in the street,” he said.
The second caravan, which clashed with Federal Police at the border last Sunday, is still in Chiapas.
Immigration officials and Federal Police detained and deported 160 members of the group Wednesday because they entered Mexico illegally.
The remaining members of the caravan, still numbering close to 2,000, are traveling today from Huixtla to Mapastepec.
The third caravan of around 450 Salvadoran migrants entered Mexico legally Tuesday and filed asylum requests with the INM. They are still in Tapachula awaiting immigration papers.
While most migrants remain determined to reach the United States’ southern border where they intend to request asylum, some have heeded warnings that danger awaits them and are heading home.
One migrant turning around is a Salvadoran man identified only as Raúl who has only traveled 250 kilometers from his home.
While on the road, Raúl received a call from his wife in El Salvador who told him that messages were circulating on WhatsApp chat groups — which were used to organize at least one caravan — saying that migrants are in danger of being killed as they travel through Mexico.
Criminal groups have long preyed on Central Americans transiting Mexico, forcing men into working for them and pushing women into prostitution. Those who refuse to cooperate run the risk of being killed.
Another potential danger awaits the migrants if they manage to cross Mexico and reach the United States.
U.S. President Trump said in a speech this week that migrants throwing rocks at U.S. forces will be treated as armed.
“They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back. We’ll consider — and I told them — consider it a rifle. When they throw rocks like they did at the Mexico military and police, I say consider it a rifle.”
Raúl told the newspaper Milenio that in addition to the risks posed by traveling through Mexico, Trump’s threats had also influenced his decision to head home.
“It seems dangerous, people are saying that Trump is going to shoot us when we get to the border and I don’t want that, I want to work there, I don’t want to get shot,” he said.