Migrant caravan halted in Mexico
MATIAS ROMERO, Mexico
The caravan of Central American migrants that angered U.S. President Donald Trump was sidelined at a sports field in southern Mexico with no means of reaching the border even as Trump tweeted another threat to Mexico Tuesday.
“The big Caravan of People from Honduras, now coming across Mexico and heading to our “Weak Laws” Border, had better be stopped before it gets there,” Trump wrote. “Cash cow NAFTA is in play, as is foreign aid to Honduras and the countries that allow this to happen.”
The caravan that once numbered 1,150 or more people actually halted days ago in the town of Matias Romero in the southern state of Oaxaca, where participants slept out in the open. After days of walking along roadsides and train tracks, the organizers now plan to try to get buses to take participants to the final event, an immigrants’ rights conference in the central state of Puebla later this week.
Bogged down by logistical problems, large numbers of children and fears about people getting sick, the caravan was always meant to draw attention to the plight of migrants and was never equipped to march all the way to the U.S. border.
“The idea was never for this group of people to reach the border. It was more to achieve a sensible and clear solution” to migrants’ need to leave their countries, said Irineo Mujica, director of Pueblo Sin Fronteras, the activist group behind the annual symbolic event.
With conditions bad in Honduras after that country’s hotly disputed November presidential elections, unexpectedly large numbers of people showed for this year’s march.
On Tuesday, the group – mostly Hondurans – spread out on blankets in walkways between buildings, on playing fields and on grassy spots between swing sets. Young children kicked soccer balls through the dust and climbed on resting parents, killing time. Adults gathered around the few power outlets to charge cellphones. A single municipal police officer kept watch.
Women and children picked through piles of donated clothing, as volunteers ladled water boiled over a fire into cups with instant coffee and instant noodles.
On Monday, Mexican immigration officials began taking the names of people interested in filing for asylum, or temporary transit or humanitarian visas in Mexico.
But Mujica said he didn’t know “if that was just to calm down Donald Trump’s tweets, or calm down Donald Trump.” He said the group was waiting for the migration officers to return.