Car­a­van re­turnees hope to try again

Hun­dreds headed back to Hon­duras

Albuquerque Journal - - ELECTION 2018 -

SAN PE­DRO SULA, Hon­duras — The Metropoli­tan Grand Cen­tral bus ter­mi­nal in this city where the mi­grant car­a­van trav­el­ing through Mex­ico orig­i­nated more than three weeks ago is a place of cross­ing des­tinies for Hon­durans dream­ing of seek­ing a bet­ter life in the United States.

Some of the dozens of peo­ple sleep­ing on the con­crete floor or out­side on the grass un­der­neath palm trees bathed by the light of street lamps are await­ing buses to the Guatemalan bor­der to be­gin the jour­ney north. Oth­ers are ar­riv­ing af­ter fail­ing to com­plete the trip and are be­ing fer­ried back to the pre­car­i­ous lives they left be­hind.

Hun­dreds of the mostly Hon­duran mi­grants who set out with the car­a­van that has tra­versed hun­dreds of miles through three coun­tries be­fore ar­riv­ing in Mex­ico City this week have re­turned home, ac­cord­ing to the Mex­i­can gov­ern­ment. Some grew dis­il­lu­sioned. Oth­ers sim­ply wore out. Still oth­ers were de­tained and re­turned, or gave up on wait­ing for pos­si­ble asy­lum in Mex­ico and ac­cepted bus rides back home.

Dis­em­bark­ing at the bus sta­tion in San Pe­dro Sula, nearly all of those re­turn­ing said the same thing: Maybe not to­day, maybe not to­mor­row, but they in­tend to try again.

“I would go 30 times more if pos­si­ble,” said Daniel Cas­taneda, an 18-year-old from the cen­tral city of Co­mayagua.

He was de­tained shortly af­ter mi­grants in a car­a­van fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of the first one clashed with po­lice on a bridge on the Mex­i­can bor­der with Gu­atemala late last month.

“I can’t say when, but I am go­ing to keep go­ing. … This coun­try is go­ing to be left empty,” he said.

Reny Maudiel a fresh-faced 16-year-old in a green T-shirt, a mop of curly hair stick­ing sky­ward from his head, said he was turned off by the vi­o­lence of last month’s bor­der clashes. He was also ex­hausted, and his feet hurt — but al­ready his mind was turn­ing north­ward.

“I hope an­other op­por­tu­nity emerges,” he said.

While U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump seized on the car­a­van as a cam­paign is­sue for Tues­day’s midterm elec­tions and sug­gested that crim­i­nals had in­fil­trated the group, the mi­grants say they are flee­ing poverty, lack of jobs and ram­pant vi­o­lence.

Ac­cord­ing to data from Mex­ico’s Na­tional Im­mi­gra­tion In­sti­tute, on av­er­age 136 Hon­duran mi­grants per day have been re­turned to their coun­try this year.

MOISES CASTILLO/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Hon­durans rest on the grass un­der­neath palm trees, bathed by the light of street lamps out­side the Metropoli­tan Grand Cen­tral bus ter­mi­nal in San Pe­dro Sula, Hon­duras, last month.

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