Thou­sands of mi­grants stream into Mex­ico City

The Myanmar Times - - World -

THOU­SANDS of Cen­tral Amer­i­cans dream­ing of get­ting to the United States streamed into Mex­ico’s cap­i­tal and bed­ded down in a sports sta­dium on the eve of U.S. midterm elec­tions in which Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has made the mi­grant car­a­van a cen­tral is­sue.

Au­thor­i­ties counted more than 2,000 mi­grants en­ter­ing the Je­sus Mar­tinez sta­dium by midafter­noon Mon­day, and a steady flow con­tin­ued into the night. The fa­cil­ity has a ca­pac­ity to hold 6,000, of­fi­cials said, and four big tents set up for sleep­ing filled up.

Still hun­dreds of miles from the U.S. bor­der, early ar­rivals ea­gerly sifted through do­nated clothes, gave them­selves sponge baths and ate chicken and rice. They then picked up thin mat­tresses to hun­ker down for the night. Much in de­mand were blan­kets to ward off the chill in a city more than 7,300 feet (2,240 me­ters) above sea level, a big change af­ter trudg­ing for three weeks in trop­i­cal heat.

Nashieli Ramirez, om­buds­man for the lo­cal hu­man rights com­mis­sion, said the city was pre­par­ing to ac­com­mo­date as many as 5,000 peo­ple. The lead car­a­van is es­ti­mated to have about 4,000 par­tic­i­pants and sev­eral smaller groups are trail­ing hun­dreds of miles to the south.

“We have the space in terms of hu­man­i­tar­ian help,” Ramirez said.

Many of the mi­grants sought treat­ment for blis­tered and aching feet, ill­ness and other mal­adies. “Since we got here, we have not stopped,” said Ta­nia Es­co­bar, a nurse with Mex­ico City’s pub­lic health depart­ment at the treat­ment tent.

Melvin Figueroa, a 32-year-old from Tegu­ci­galpa, Hon­duras, was with his preg­nant wife and two chil­dren, 6 and 8. He took the 6-year-old girl to the tent be­cause her eyes were ir­ri­tated and “she throws up ev­ery­thing she eats.” More mi­grants were trudg­ing along the high­way be­tween the city of Pue­bla and the cap­i­tal, try­ing to hitch rides from pass­ing ve­hi­cles.

Trump has seized on the car­a­van and por­trayed it as a ma­jor threat, even though such car­a­vans have hap­pened reg­u­larly over the years and largely passed un­no­ticed. He or­dered thou­sands of troops to the US - Mex­ico bor­der when the mi­grants were still hun­dreds of miles to the south, threat­ened to de­tain asy­lum seek­ers in tents cities and has in­sin­u­ated with­out proof that there are crim­i­nals or even ter­ror­ists in the group.

In dozens of in­ter­views since the ini­tial car­a­van set out from Hon­duras more than three weeks ago, mi­grants have said they are es­cap­ing ram­pant poverty and vi­o­lence. Many are fam­i­lies trav­el­ing with small chil­dren. Some say they left be­cause they were threat­ened by gang mem­bers or had lost rel­a­tives to gang vi­o­lence. Oth­ers say they hope to work, se­cure a good ed­u­ca­tion for their chil­dren and send money to sup­port loved ones back home. – AP

Photo: AP

Cen­tral Amer­i­can mi­grants be­gin their morn­ing trek as part of a thou­sands-strong car­a­van hop­ing to reach the U.S. bor­der, as they face the Pico de Oriz­aba vol­cano upon de­par­ture from Cor­doba, Ver­acruz state, Mex­ico on Mon­day.

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