Migrant Caravan Sets Sight on Getting to Mexico City


Thousands of wary Central American migrants resumed their push toward the United States on Sunday, a day after arguments over the path ahead saw some travelers splinter away from the main caravan, which is entering a treacherous part of its journey through Mexico.

About 4000 migrants are headed along what some call the "route of death" toward the town of Cordoba, Veracruz.

"It is very important that they be able to move soon from Veracruz toward another place", Yunes said in a video message. "Others went ahead, maybe they have no goal, but we do have a goal and it is to arrive".

Hundreds of Central American migrants from a 4,000-strong caravan winding its way through southern Mexico and toward the US border splintered off on their own Saturday after broken promises of bus transportation.

Nearly immediately afterward, Gov. Miguel Angel Yunes released a second video saying that it would not be correct to send the migrants to Mexico City because the city's water system was undergoing maintenance and 7 million of its people would be without water over the weekend. The maintenance has been known about for weeks.

Migrants expressed surprise and disappointment at the decision. A day prior, the migrants made a trek of 40 miles (65 kilometers) from Juchitan, Oaxaca, to Donaji, Oaxaca, and then even farther along to Sayula.

"They're playing with our dignity. We are going to stay with it and respect the organizers", said Luis Euseda, a 32-year-old from Tegucigalpa, Honduras who is travelling with his wife Jessica Fugon.

"Our heads are set at getting to the United States, to fulfill the American dream", said Mauricio Mancilla, who traveled with his six-year old son from San Pedro Sula.

Trump says has told the US military mobilizing at the southwest border that if USA troops face rock-throwing migrants, they should react as though the rocks were "rifles".

Caravan organizers have pleaded for buses in recent days after three weeks on the road, hitching rides and walking.

Veracruz Gov. Miguel Angel Yunes reneged on a Friday offer to provide buses to leapfrog the migrants to the Mexican capital or some other destination.

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The latest reversal comes as Mexican authorities appear conflicted and divided over their approach to the caravan.

On Friday, a caravan from El Salvador waded over the Suchiate River into Mexico, bringing 1,000 to 1,500 people who want to reach the US border.

That caravan tried to cross the bridge between Guatemala and Mexico, but Mexican authorities told those traveling in it they would have to show passports and visas and enter in groups of 50 for processing.

The Salvadorans opted instead to wade across a shallow stretch of the river to enter Mexico.

Although police were present, they did not try to stop the migrants, who later walked along a highway toward the nearest large city, Tapachula.

Mexico is now faced with the unprecedented situation of having three caravans stretched out over 300 miles (500 kilometers) of highways in the southern states of Chiapas and Oaxaca, with a total of about 6,000 migrants. Mexico will not allow the migrants to simply run free in a catch-and-release type program, however; the 1,553 migrants awaiting an asylum hearing will remain in temporary shelters located just over Mexico's border with Guatemala. The caravan has shrunk to less than 4,000 migrants, although it has become hard to give exact numbers as migrants advance toward small towns any way they can.

Another caravan, also of about 1000 people, entered Mexico earlier this week. "Of those, 927 have canceled their asylum claim with the Mexican government and returned to Guatemala and Honduras, where the caravans originated, according to a government news release".

Thousands more Central Americans were moving in groups in the Gulf state of Veracruz, the central state of Puebla and in the southern state of Chiapas, local media reported.

Immigration agents and police have been nibbling at the edges of the first two caravans.

There has also been pressure on the first caravan. Federal police have been pulling freight trucks over and forcing migrants off, saying their habit of clinging to the tops or sides of the trucks was unsafe.

At other points along the route, police have forced overloaded pickups to drop off migrants and ordered passenger vans to stop helping with transportation.