Hopes of car­a­van mi­grants dashed


Gulf News - - World - SAYULA, MEX­ICO

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.



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