Migrant caravan abandons plan to travel to US border
Matías Romero (Mexico) (AFP)
A caravan of Central American migrants whose trek across Mexico infuriated President Donald Trump has decided not to travel to the US border, leaders said Tuesday.
"We will wrap up our work in Mexico City," said Irineo Mujica, the head of the migrant advocacy group People Without Borders (Pueblo sin Fronteras).
"We have support teams at the border if there are people who need assistance there, but they would have to travel on their own," he told AFP in the town of Matias Romero, in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca.
The just over 1,000 migrants who currently make up the caravan -- many traveling in families of up to 20 people -- have been camped in the southern town since the weekend, deciding their next move in the face of daily attacks from Trump.
The Republican president vowed to send the US military to secure the border and threatened to axe the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) if Mexico did not stop the caravan.
The caravan is in fact a yearly event whose goal is more to raise awareness about the plight of migrants than to reach the United States -- though some participants have traveled to the border in the past.
Mujica said this year's caravan was so large it would have been dangerous to travel to the border by train-hopping.
"There are too many children -- 450 in all. There are lots of babies. Hopping the train, as we did in the past, would have been crazy," he said.
The caravan now plans to travel to the central city of Puebla for a conference, then on to Mexico City for a series of demonstrations -- and end its journey there.
The group, mainly Hondurans, also includes Salvadorans, Guatemalans and Nicaraguans, mostly fleeing the brutal gang violence that has made Central America home to some of the highest murder rates in the world.
Organizers say Mexican immigration authorities are working with the migrants to get them papers to stay in Mexico.
Mujica praised the Mexican government for its response.
"Donald Trump wanted the world to crush us, to erase our existence. But Mexico responded admirably and we thank the government for the way it handled this caravan," he said.
© 2018 AFP