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Migrant caravan in Mexico trudges through 'route of death'

AP  |  Isla (Mexico) 

Hundreds of Central American migrants from a 4,000-strong winding its way through southern and towards the US border splintered off on their own after broken promises of

Patience appeared to be wearing thin among the exhausted trekkers after reneged on an offer on Friday to provide buses to leapfrog the migrants to the Mexican capital. Tempers flared as the migrants struggled with exhaustion, blisters, and swollen feet.

organisers have pleaded for buses in recent days after three weeks on the road, hitching rides and walking. The group scattered between several towns in Veracruz on Saturday, raising questions of whether they would stick together.

Several thousand planned to spend the night in Isla, about 1,126 kilometres south of the US border, while another large contingent hunkered down in Juan Rodriguez Clara and yet another reached Tierra Blanca, 129 kilometers to the north.

In a statement, the migrants lambasted Mexican officials for directing them northward through the state of Veracruz, calling it the "route of death". Some migrants branched off in the belief that they were near the metropolises of and City, where they aimed to rest and receive medical attention.

A trek via the sugar fields and fruit groves of Veracruz takes them through a state where hundreds of migrants have disappeared in recent years, falling prey to kidnappers looking for ransom payments.

Authorities in Veracruz said in September they had discovered remains from at least 174 people buried in clandestine graves. Some security experts have questioned whether those bodies belonged to migrants.

Ibis Villanueva, 32, said he decided to strike out on his own for because he felt frustrated by the lack of organisation in the "We don't believe the coordinators anymore. Yesterday they said we were going on bus, today no," said the from

Gerardo Perez, a 20-year-old migrant, said he was tired. "They're playing with our dignity. If you could have only seen the people's happiness last night when they told us that we were going by bus and today we're not," he said.

The caravan's 'strength in numbers' strategy has enabled them to mobilise support as they move through and has inspired subsequent migrants to try their luck via caravan.

Mexico now faces the unprecedented situation of having three caravans stretched over 500 kilometers of highway in the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca and Veracruz, with a total of more than 6,000 migrants.

On Friday, a caravan from waded over the into Mexico, bringing 1,000 to 1,500 people who want to reach the US border. That caravan initially tried to cross the bridge between and Mexico, but Mexican authorities told them they would have to show passports and visas and enter in groups of 50 for processing.

Another caravan, also of about 1,000 to 1,500 people, entered Mexico earlier this week and is now in Chiapas. That group includes Hondurans, Salvadorans and some Guatemalans.

The first, largest group of mainly Honduran migrants entered Mexico on October 19. At its peak that caravan swelled to an estimated 7,000 participants. Mexican officials appear conflicted over whether to help or hinder their journeys.

Immigration agents and police have at times detained migrants in the smaller caravans. There has also been pressure on the main caravan, with federal police pulling over freight trucks and forcing migrants off, saying that clinging to the tops or sides of the trucks was dangerous.

But several mayors have rolled out the welcome mat for migrants who reached their towns -- arranging for and camp sites. Mexico's Interior Department says nearly 3,000 of the migrants in the first caravan have applied for refuge in Mexico and hundreds more have returned home.

With or without the government's help, uncertainty awaits. has ordered US troops to the Mexican border in response to the caravans. More than 7,000 active duty troops have been told to deploy to Texas, and ahead of the midterm elections.

He plans to sign an order next week that could lead to the large-scale detention of migrants crossing the southern border and bar anyone caught crossing illegally from claiming asylum.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, November 04 2018. 06:20 IST