(TECUN UMAN, Guatemala) – A US-based caravan, which once numbered more than 3,000 Central American migrants, appeared to be about a third on Saturday morning, with its remaining members growing up on a bridge that borders Guatemala and Mexico, waiting to come over at an intersection guarded by hundreds of Mexican federal police officers.
Hundreds of migrants have already crossed, some legal, some not. Others left their places on the bridge to eat in a nearby Guatemalan city. It's unclear if someone just turned around.
The group burst through a Guatemalan border fence on Friday and crashed onto the bridge over the Suchiate River, resisting officials' requests for an orderly crossing and threat of retaliation by US President Donald Trump. They were hit by a police wallet with shields, and only about 50 migrants managed to punch through before the officers unleashed pepper spray. The rest retreated and joined the sea of people suspended between the two countries.
At an event in Scottsdale, Arizona on Friday, US President Mexico made it clear he was monitoring his reaction.
At this moment, I thank Mexico. I hope you continue. But from that moment on, I thank Mexico, "he said," If that does not work, we call the military ̵
He also warned the migrants to return.
" They are coming He said:
On Friday, Mexican police and immigration officials began to let small groups of 10, 20 or 30 people out of the gates if they wanted to seek refugee status. they were given the opportunity to go to an animal shelter to spend the night.
Other migrants who were tired of waiting jumped from the bridge into the river, and some organized a rope brigade to fondle their muddy waters. or they swam on rafts of local residents who normally charge one or two dollars for the passage.
Carlos Rodriguez, 20, crossed the Suchiate in a raft and reached the Mexicans side. "I am proud, "he said after landing on Mexican soil.
Hundreds of others woke up in the middle of garbage that was already piled up on the bridge. Without a bathroom, a bad smell smelled through the air.
Jose Yanez slept without a blanket, but vowed to continue.
"From here we move on, there's no turning back from here," said the 25-year-old farmer, adding that he makes 150 Lempiras a day in Honduras, or about $ 6, and no benefits for the job Has.
The organizers of the caravan absolutely wanted to avoid a repeat of the onslaught on the border with Guatemala.
Some women and children made their way to the front of the caravan on Saturday while men were in the back.
They are also about 30 feet (9 meters) away. back from the gate separating them from the Mexican police to build a buffer zone.
Late on Friday evening, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said: "Mexico does not allow and will not permit entry into its territory in an irregular manner, let alone brutally."
Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández tweeted late Friday that he talked with his Guatemalan counterpart Jimmy Morales and asked for permission to send Honduran civil defense personnel to the bridge to help the migrants.
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Hernandez and Morales will meet in Guatemala on Saturday to talk about the subject
Acner Adolfo Rodriguez, 30, one of the last migrants through the Guatemalan border fence, said he hopes to get work and a better life Far from the widespread poverty and gang violence in Honduras, one of the deadliest countries in the world
"May Trump's heart be touched to let us through," Rodriguez said.
Mexican officials said that those with passports and valid visas – just a tiny minority of those trying to cross – would be instantly admitted. 19659004] Migrants seeking refuge in Mexico are welcome, they said, but those who decide and get caught illegally are imprisoned and deported.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met Peña Nieto and Foreign Minister Luis Videaray in Mexico City on Friday, with the Caravan at the Top of the Agenda
At a press conference with Videaray, Pompeo described illegal migration as a "crisis "Important to stop this river before it reaches the US border," while acknowledging Mexico's right to handle the crisis in a sovereign manner.
"Mexico will make its decision," said Pompeo their people will be treading the best path to achieving what I consider to be common goals. "
At the Mexico City airport, Pompeo said four Mexican federal police had been injured in the border defeat and expressed his sympathy
for migrants have banded together regularly for mass travel in recent years, but this caravan was unusual for its huge size, said Victor Clark Alfaro, a Latin American professor at San Diego State University. By comparison, a caravan in April that also attracted Trump's anger numbered about 1,000.
"It's becoming clear that the number of people in these caravan types is increasing," said Clark Alfaro. "It's migration of another dimension."
Elizabeth Oglesby, a professor at the University of Arizona's Latin American Studies Center, said people are joining such caravans because it's a way to make travel relatively safe and avoid paying thousands of dollars to smugglers. She denies Pompeo's claim that there is a "crisis" in migration.
"The border is not in crisis, this is not a migration crisis … Yes, we see some spikes in the Central Americans crossing the border, but overall migration is at a 40-year low," Oglesby said ,
Videaray, who spoke on the Televisa network, did not seem worried about Trump's threat to close the US-Mexico border saying it must be seen in the light of the hotly-contested US midterm elections in which Trump's border security an important campaign issue.
Videgaray found that 1 million people pass the border legally every day, and about a million dollars in commerce cross every minute.
"Before making such decisions," Videaray said, "there would be many people in the United States … who would consider the consequences."
Associated Press spokespersons Peter Orsi, Christopher Sherman and Maria Verza in Mexico City have contributed to this report.