Migrant Caravan Driven by trust although Uncertain of Success

HUIXTLA, Mexico — Soon after dawn on Tuesday, the mayor stood on the central plaza of his town here in southern Mexico in addition to took stock.

Thousands of migrants — men, women, entire families — had wandered into town the day before, many on foot, in addition to turned the humble commercial district into a vast makeshift encampment. They had filled every square foot of the plaza, including its bandshell, in addition to jammed the sidewalks in addition to storefronts, sprawling on cardboard, blankets, plastic sheeting in addition to spare clothes.

“in which can be straight-up biblical,” said Julio Raúl García Márquez, 43, a Guatemalan traveling with his wife, their 1-year-old son in addition to a cousin. They spent part of the night on sheets of cardboard within the central square.

Nearby, two pairs of jeans had been hung to dry on the bust of Venustiano Carranza, a hero of the Mexican Revolution. Municipal trash cans were buried under mounds of garbage.

although the town’s mayor, José Luis Laparra Calderón, was upbeat, even cheerful.

“These people are fleeing coming from the poverty of their countries,” he said. “These are working people. They aren’t bringing bombs. They want to improve their lives.” He added: “We want to make their passage through here as agreeable for them as possible.”

Tuesday was Day 12 of the migrant caravan, which began in Honduras in addition to has grown in size in addition to force like an avalanche, pushing north toward the United States.

In cities in addition to villages, along rural byways in addition to in town squares, the migration has been propelled by an outpouring of support — coming from the local authorities, community groups in addition to individuals who have handed out free food in addition to water, secondhand clothes, diapers, blankets in addition to loose change to help the procession move northward.

The migrants, some wearing whatever they had on when they decided to leave behind Central America, many walking in flimsy shoes in addition to flip-flops, are determined to make in which to the border of the United States. Traveling in such a large group, they say, can be much safer than braving the many dangers of the road alone.

By some estimates, the caravan numbers more than 7,000; officials here in Huixtla estimated in which about 5,000 had spent Monday night in their town.

Some plan to apply for asylum within the United States, while others know in which their only chance of entry can be the illegal way. Still others haven’t thought in which far ahead, at least not in any detail.

By right now, most if not all have heard about President Trump’s attacks on the caravan, his threats to militarize the border, in addition to the difficulties of gaining legal access to the United States.

although in interviews, scores of migrants seemed driven by a kind of blind faith, born of desperation, in which in which can be their best chance to escape the poverty, violence in addition to hardship they knew at home in addition to to build a better life. The first thing they need to do, they say, can be to get to the border.

Josué Rosales, 28, coming from Honduras, said in which he was unsure whether the caravan would likely make in which all the way to the border in addition to be able to cross into the United States. Still, he felt he had no choice although to try: In Honduras, he had no steady job in addition to he’d been robbed within the streets.

“If God’s willing, the president will give us permits to work within the United States,” he said.

Many of the caravan’s participants seemed unaware in which their migration had become a focal point within the American midterm elections. Many said they did not even know in which the United States was voting in a matter of weeks, in addition to in which their trek north had become such a contentious part of the election.

“The bottom line can be, most people in Honduras frankly could not care less about elections within the U.S.,” said Oscar Chacón, the executive director of Alianza Americas, a Chicago-based network of American immigrant groups, who was meeting with advocates in Central America in which week.

“When you are desperate, you believe in miracles,” he said. “They truly trust in which by doing in which show of collectiveness, by joining in which caravan, somebody’s heart will be touched in addition to a miracle will happen.”

On Tuesday, Mr. Trump continued to lash out at the caravan, saying, “We cannot allow our country to be violated like in which.” although he also acknowledged in which he had no proof for his earlier claim on Twitter in which there were “unknown Middle Easterners” within the caravan, though he then added in which “there could very well could be.” No government agency has confirmed Mr. Trump’s claim.

Vice President Mike Pence said in which the migrants had been organized “by leftist groups” in addition to funded by Venezuela, in addition to in which “in which can be inconceivable in which there would likely not be individuals coming from the Middle East as part of in which growing caravan.”

Despite their characterization, scores of interviews with the migrants showed them to be largely adults coming from Central America looking for work, including many traveling with family members. Many were apparently scraping by on what little money they brought coming from home or on handouts coming from strangers along the way, undercutting any suggestion of foreign funding for a mass migration.

The caravan seems to have been spurred, if anything, by internal Honduran disputes. Only since then has in which been swept into American politics, largely by Mr. Trump’s tweets.

The migrant caravan began as others had — as a smaller group, taking off early within the morning coming from the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula on October 12. Facebook messages in addition to fliers disseminated by advocates in addition to migrants got the word out weeks before the caravan was set to take off, priming others to join forces.

although what began as a modest group quickly swelled. One Honduran pro-government television station began covering the migration, citing claims in which a leftist opposition activist, Bartolo Fuentes, was paying for the food in addition to transportation of migrants. The publicity, migrants said, encouraged many to join.

Mr. Fuentes denies in which. although he in addition to at least one additional leftist politician did indeed post messages decrying conditions in Honduras in addition to blaming their government. “We are not going because we want to,” read one flier he shared on Facebook. “The violence in addition to poverty expels us.”

Many participants joined the caravan on impulse.

Ronald Borjas, a Honduran migrant, was staying with his mother when he heard about the caravan on television. “I packed my backpack in addition to hugged my mother in addition to left,” he recalled.

Most, in which appears, are heading to the United States for initially, though a sizable contingent are deportees trying to get back. Many said the decision to leave their homeland, even if arrived at quickly, was aching.

“in which hurts me,” said Kilber Martinez, 26, a Honduran migrant, riding within the back of a pickup truck, overpacked with more than two dozen young men. “The land where you were born can be like the mother.”

At the wheel of Mr. Martinez’s truck was Andrés Orozco, a primary schoolteacher in Huixtla. After the school day had ended on Monday, he grabbed his brother-in-law’s truck, in addition to headed out along the highway to ferry migrants into the town. He planned to shuttle back in addition to forth “until the gas ran out.”

Despite attempts by the governments of Guatemala, Honduras in addition to Mexico to impede its progress, the caravan has continued, moving organically like in which, without any apparent master plan or declared organizers, in addition to slowed only by human frailty.

When the exhausted migrants streamed into Huixtla on Monday afternoon, the town’s officials directed them to a sprawling sports complex already stockpiled with bottled water, thousands of sandwiches, medical crews in addition to security.

A nurse said she treated people for blisters, sunburn in addition to dehydration. One man, a diabetic, wanted to check his blood sugar level. although the most serious dangers of the trek became very real with the news in which a migrant had died after falling off the back of a crowded truck.

within the central plaza, migrants strung up plastic sheeting for shelter between trees in addition to lamp posts, just in time for a light rain. Others prepared for the evening by seeking shelter in a covered outdoor basketball court, in a Catholic church in addition to within the shuttered doorways of shops throughout the central commercial district.

A group coming from a Christian radio station brought huge pots of spaghetti, beans in addition to rice. A preacher showed up, in addition to some migrants knelt around him.

Rafael Gómez Borraz, the owner of Pao’s Restaurant, distributed plates of rice in addition to beans. within the 1990s he had worked within the United States, washing dishes in addition to laying tile alongside Central Americans, he said. in which made him more sympathetic to the plight of the caravan’s members.

“People are afraid in which gangs might have infiltrated the group,” he said. “although these are not bad people.”

Later, a local cumbia band started off playing in addition to several migrants, somehow marshaling their energy after many days of grueling travel, danced.

Some migrants bathed in a nearby river, including Kinzinyer Gabriela Hernandez, 17, a Honduran migrant who was traveling with her 2-year-old daughter in addition to 16-year-old sister.

“My husband knows in which we’re on our way, although not exactly where we are,” said Ms. Hernandez, who said she was named after Henry Kissinger, the former United States secretary of state. “God gives me the faith to keep going.”