Central American migrants head out from Mexico City on the next leg of their trek to the US border © AFP / Alfredo Estrella
, Mexico City, Mexico, Nov 9 – The caravan of Central American migrants whose trek toward the United States became a hot-button issue in the US mid-term elections fragmented Friday as hundreds left Mexico City to resume their journey.
Around 5,500 migrants had been camped out in a shelter set up at the weekend inside a stadium in the capital.
But several hundred in the group decided to hit the road again at dawn, while the remainder chose to wait in hopes that someone would provide them buses, at least for the elderly and those traveling with small children.
The caravan set out on October 13 from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and has covered more than 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) so far.
Along the way, it has drawn a flurry of vitriolic tweets from US President Donald Trump, who sought to mobilize his conservative base with anti-immigrant rhetoric ahead of Tuesday’s elections, in which his Republican party lost control of the House of Representatives.
A group of Central American migrants protested outside the Mexico City offices of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees on November 8, 2018 © AFP / Alfredo Estrella
Hitch-hiking and walking, often in plastic shoes or flip-flops, the migrants still have up to 2,800 kilometers to walk to the border, if they take the safest route — to Tijuana.
Most of those who packed their meager belongings and set out again before sunrise were young men, though there were some families, too.
“We couldn’t just wait there. People just kept spreading lies, saying someone was going to give us buses. We were hungry and cold,” said Socorro Diaz, a 32-year-old Honduran woman traveling with her two children, ages four and seven.
Mexico City authorities provided a subway train to give the group a free ride to the last stop on the line. From there, they headed to the highway toward the city of Queretaro, 220 kilometers away.
“Thank you, Mexico!” they shouted as they streamed out of the subway.
The migrants are mostly fleeing violence and poverty in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, where street gangs rule their turf with bloody brutality that has given the region some of the world’s highest murder rates.
Migrants get a lift on Mexico City’s metro as they set off on the next leg of their trek north to the US border © AFP / Alfredo Estrella
“I’m carrying clothes, toys for the kids and a picture of my late wife,” said one migrant, Justin Cortez, who decided to make the journey with his twin 10-year-old sons after his wife was killed by a gang.
“My family is the reason that, God willing, I’m going to reach the US border. I’d rather die than give them a bad life,” he told AFP.