The caravan of migrants heading toward the United States shows no intention of stopping: after having broken through the gates and the border fences between Guatemala and Mexico, and having resisted two attempts at containment by the Mexican police, which used tear gas against them, the migrants have decided together to continue their journey, reaching Tapachula in Chiapas on Sunday.
They were 1,600 when they departed from San Pedro Sula on Oct. 13, and now they are 7,000: most of them Hondurans, but also Salvadorans and Guatemalans, all determined to defy hunger, fatigue, attempts at repression, and also their governments’ policies and the increasingly ominous warnings being sent by an enraged Trump. On Monday the US president tweeted: “Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States. Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in. I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergy [sic]. Must change laws!”
Reaching Tapachula was a great show of strength, as Denis Omar Contreras, one of the representatives of the caravan and a member of the Pueblos Sin Fronteras organization, pointed out: “We broke the barrier and sent a message of rebellion to our fellow citizens of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala against our governments and their abuses of power.”
But they have done much more than that: the caravan, as the sociologist Carlos Soledad explained in La Jornada, “represents a new hope. It is a migration organized collectively, in the full light of day and with TV cameras in tow. The political cost of repressing it can be very high for any government. In this way, the old strategy of individual and disorganized migration is superseded, having become impractical in the face of the risk of violence.”
The migrants have taken some time to rest between Sunday and Tuesday. They are dealing with too much accumulated fatigue, in addition to dehydration caused by the high temperatures, despite the generous assistance offered by the local populations. Along the way, the authorities of the Mexican Federal Police and the National Institute of Migration had offered them buses that would have transferred them to a shelter, but they refused, fearing they would be detained or deported: “Let’s see what the governments will propose, starting with the government of Chiapas.” They have made it clear, nonetheless, that “if Mexico opens its doors and offers us political asylum, we will stop here, and this is where we will rebuild our life.”
President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who will take office on Dec. 1, made a statement about the migrant caravan that seemed to hint at this possibility: “They should be guaranteed the right to rebuild their lives, they should not be ill-treated by anyone. They should be protected, helped and supported.”