Inspired by the over 7,000 migrants who have left out of Honduras and Guatemala over the past two weeks, a group of migrants left El Salvador early on Sunday to be a part of the Migrant Caravan or Central American Exodus as it has been branded by participants, in order to escape the overwhelming violence and inequality in these Northern Triangle countries and seek refuge in Mexico and the United States.
A group of more than 300 Salvadorans left San Salvador on Sunday taking the same trek as the original Exodus that left Honduras on Oct. 13 that gathered additional asylum seekers in Guatemala along the way and is now in Tapantepec, Mexico in Oaxaca state.
Salvadoran police traveled with the group Sunday as migrants carried their backpacks and water bottles, protecting themselves from the hot sun with hats. Some mothers pushed their children in strollers.
U.S. President Donald Trump initially threatened to stop sending aid to the Honduran government that in 2017 received over US$19 million in military and anti-drug measures from the United States. The head of state now says another 800 troops will head to the southern border to deal with what he calls a national security “crisis.”
Trump and Republicans have sought to make immigration a major issue before the Nov. 6 elections, in which the party is battling to keep control of Congress.
The largest portion of the Exodus, approximately 4,500-6,000 people, has been resting in Tapantepec, Mexico since Saturday morning prior to being blocked by the police about 12km north of Arriago. Cell phone service was also blocked, according to Amelia Frank-Vitale, Ph.D. candidate and expert in Central American migration.
She told teleSUR on Sunday afternoon after being embedded with the group for several days: “There was a big assembly and most people are pretty eager to keep moving but for a number of reasons people decided to stay one more day in Tapantepec and head to Niltepec tomorrow morning.”
She said the group’s “general enthusiasm and spirit is pretty amazing."
Frank-Vitale says of the group's unity: “There's a difficult but beautiful democratic process happening here when decisions are made. People get up and speak. There are assemblies that everyone is involved in who want to be and by a show of hands or noise, decisions are made.”
While leaving out of San Salvador, 49-year-old caravaner Hernan Quinteros shouted to those he traveled with: “We’re asking the all-powerful to look after us, to guide us, to free us from all that is bad,” reports AP.
El Salvador’s government said it had solidarity with the migrants and respected their right to mobilize, but urged them not to risk their lives on the way.