The 5,000 people of the first group of Central American asylum seekers reached Guadalajara in Mexico’s western state of Jalisco on Monday. Shortly after they were asked to leave the city by the state government and were left stranded in Nayarit.
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Leaders of the Central American Exodus, or migrant caravan, wrote in a Tuesday morning communique that after being initially well-received at the Benito Juarez auditorium in Guadalajara “with food and water,” they were told by the Jalisco state government they had to “abandon the city (because) they didn’t have enough resources” to help the group seeking asylum in the United States.
The 5,000 people, many who are women and children, have now been traveling for a month after leaving San Pedro Sula, Honduras on Oct. 12 to escape grinding poverty, violence, and lack of food access due to climate change. Three other groups have left Guatemala and El Salvador since then. A fifth group is set to leave El Salvador by Nov. 18, according to sources.
According to the statement, representatives of the exodus talked with Jalisco government officials who had promised to provide them transportation to the state of Nayarit, which couldn’t take them in because of a recent hurricane. Additional buses would take them further north up the coast to Sinaloa.
However, the first buses dropped the group off some 90km short of the agreed location where the migrants could access transport to Sinaloa. “A clear decision by the Jalisco state government to kick us out of Guadalajara without following through on its word, putting families and children at security and health risks,” the statement reads.
Migrant leaders say the Jalisco government will be held responsible for “any aggression (or) accidents.”
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While many Mexican citizens and organizations in Chiapas, Oaxaca, and Veracruz have helped asylum seekers travel north, over the past weeks the Mexican government has consistently taken measures to deter the migrants from reaching Mexico's northern border.
In late October, Mexico security forces killed a young Honduran with a rubber bullet while trying to stop the caravan from entering the country from Guatemala. Around the same time, military helicopters flew low temporarily stopping the second Exodus from entering through its southern border.
In November, the federal Mexican government blocked them from receiving 70 donated buses that would have taken them straight from Oaxaca’s coast to Mexico City, a tactic that was congratulated by U.S. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
“They have helped us in new ways to slow this down, to break this up, and keep it from moving as aggressively towards the U.S.," Sanders said in a late October interview.
The U.S. has sent over 5,200 military troops to the border to prevent the caravans’ passage two weeks ago. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recently sued the administration over its attempt to prevent people from applying for asylum.
Parts of the first caravan reached Tijuana on Sunday while the others in the contingent are scattered between the states of Queretaro and Guanajuato. The second Central American Exodus is in Puebla and the third, some 2,000 people, are in Veracruz, according to teleSUR correspondents.