Hopes of caravan migrants dashed
GOVERNOR OF VERACRUZ STATE PULLS HIS INITIAL OFFER OF DOZENS OF BUSES TO FERRY THEM TO MEXICO CITY
Thousands of Central American migrants travelling in a caravan through southern Mexico had their brief hopes of reaching the country’s capital yesterday dashed, after the governor of Veracruz state pulled an offer of dozens of buses to take them there.
Governor Miguel Angel Yunes announced on Friday evening that authorities in Veracruz would be providing not only humanitarian assistance to the migrants, but also buses to leapfrog them to Mexico City after three gruelling weeks spent walking along highways and hitching rides to reach the coastal state.
“It is very important that they be able to move soon from Veracruz toward another place,” Yunes said in a video message. “For that reason, we also offered them transportation so that, if possible, tomorrow ... they may be able to go to Mexico City or to the place they wish.”
Organisers of the caravan of about 4,000 migrants told its members that they would be leaving the town of Sayula around 5am yesterday in convoys of 10 buses for the 10- to 12-hour trip. A jubilant caravan coordinator told the group: “We are all going!”
But almost immediately afterward, Yunes released a second video saying that because Mexico City’s water system was undergoing maintenance and 7 million of its people would be without water over the weekend, it would not be correct to send the migrants there.
The maintenance has known about for weeks.
Instead, he offered to have the migrants taken to another city in Veracruz until the problem in Mexico City is resolved. been
Surprise and disappointment
“I want to make an offer to the migrants that while this problem is being resolved, they accept my invitation to go to a city in Veracruz” that has the conditions to host them, he said.
The migrants expressed surprise and disappointment at the decision, and it was not immediately known what they would do yesterday.
“We believe it was a manipulation and a game played with the sentiments of the migrants,” said migrant Osman Quiroz, 21. “It is disagreeable news since the people were happy.”
Caravan organisers released ■ a statement rejecting Yunes’ decision and demanding that he fulfil his offer of buses to Mexico City.
The offer of buses to Mexico City and the subsequent reversal came after the migrants’ request for buses to the capital were ignored by the Mexican government days earlier when they were in Juchitan, Oaxaca state.
Earlier in the day, a third caravan of migrants — this time from El Salvador — waded over the Suchiate River into Mexico on Friday, bringing another 1,000 to 1,500 people who want to reach the US border. The third caravan tried to cross the bridge between Guatemala and Mexico, but Mexican authorities told those travelling in it they would have to show passports and visas and enter in groups of 50 for processing.
The Salvadorans expressed misgivings that they would be deported, so they turned around and waded across a shallow stretch of the river to enter Mexico.
Although the police were present, they did not try to physically 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 500 kilometres of highways in the southern states of Chiapas and Oaxaca, with a total of about 6,000 migrants.
Though the first caravan once numbered as many as 7,000, it has shrunk significantly. It has been hard to know their exact numbers as people scatter across highways and in small towns.
The second caravan, also of about 1,000 to 1,500 people, entered Mexico earlier last week and is now in Mapastepec, Chiapas. The second group includes Hondurans, Salvadorans and some Guatemalans. In addition, the government identified a fourth, smaller group of 300 Central American migrants walking further ahead, in Veracruz.
It remained unclear how many migrants would make it after 20 days of scorching heat, constant walking, chills, rain and illness had taken their toll.
Top and below left: Salvadorean migrants heading in a caravan to the United States, cross the Suchiate River to Mexico, from Ciudad Tecun Uman, Guatemala, on Friday. Below right: Migrants, part of a caravan travelling from Central America en route to the US, walk by the road that links Ciudad Hidalgo with Tapachula.