Participants in the migrant caravan held a vigil Tuesday night for the 22-year-old Honduran who died earlier that day after falling from a vehicle outside of Huixtla, Mexico on his way north to the United States.
Hundreds of migrants gathered in a park in Huixtla, Chiapas, raising lit candles to honor Melvin Jose Gomez Escobar who fell from a vehicle he had boarded Tuesday in Tapachula near the Mexico-Guatemala border while trying to hitchhike part of the more than 3,500km journey from Honduras to the U.S. southern border. Gomez was pronounced dead at 2:00 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.
This is the second reported death during the now 7,000-strong caravan that left out of San Pedro Sula, Honduras on Oct. 13 with a mere 160 people. Days ago another migrant was killed while traveling through Guatemala.
Last year some nearly 900 migrants died while traveling from Latin America to the U.S. border, according to Migration Data Portal.
The migrants, many of whom are parents or children, are seeking asylum, security and economic stability in the U.S., needing to flee their home country, which registered 3,791 homicides, a 70 percent poverty rate, and seven percent unemployment in 2017.
Extortion and death threats have become a regular part of life in Honduras since the illegal 2009-U.S. backed military coup of President Manuel Zelaya. State violence against citizens has only intensified since last November’s elections put President Juan Orlando Hernandez (JOH) back in the Honduran presidential palace after an election that is widely accepted as fraudulent.
The caravan has attracted worldwide attention and influenced others to take up the march north leaving out of Honduras and now Guatemala earlier this week.
"When we heard that the caravan was coming (we joined)... people in Guatemala also suffer from poverty, so this is an opportunity to improve the life of my family," Elsa Romero, a Guatemalan mother of four told Reuters as she rested in Huixtla.
Sources tell TeleSUR that an additional caravan is also planned to leave El Salvador on October 31.
The incoming Mexican president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) has offered work visas to the Central Americans traveling mainly by foot. He says he wants to combat what he calls the “root causes” of migration such as violence, drug trafficking and poverty.
Mexican authorities report that as of Oct. 23 they had received 1,699 requests for shelter, especially from women and children in the caravan.
Trump says he welcomes the plan but still criticizes Mexico for "doing little" to stem the flow of the thousands of migrants, who are now traveling the country’s southern states.
On Wednesday morning over Twitter, Trump reiterated his 2016 campaign solution to build a wall to block incoming migrants insisting they were “illegal.” Last week he threatened to end all financial and technical aid to Honduras if those walking to the United States didn't return to their home country.
The U.S. head of state claimed Monday that there were "unknown Middle Easterners … mixed in" with the caravan, amending the statement on Tuesday to say there’s no proof to his prior statement, but that it could be true.
"There's no proof of anything. But there could very well be," the president said.
Republican House of Representative from Florida, Matt Geartz was spreading the idea last week that the caravan is being sourced by Democrats and billionaire George Soros based on a video he claimed was taped in Honduras, but was actually in Guatemala, of a man handing out flyers to people in a line.
Vice President Mike Pence, said he has news from JOH that the caravan is being funded by Venezuelans. "(Hernandez) told me that the caravan that is now making its way in Mexico ... was organized by leftist organizations and funded by Venezuela," said Pence.