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Voices from the Caravan: Why Do These Honduran Migrants Head North?



GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala – For days they have traveled north from their homes in Honduras, walking, driving in buses and trailers in cars and trucks. They only carried the bare necessities in small sacks and backpacks.

When the large migrant caravan entered Guatemala on its way to the United States, more people joined the march, breaking it up into smaller units. On Wednesday evening, some had stopped to rest and sleep in Guatemala City. There were many families and pregnant women in the ranks.

The caravan – some 4,000 people according to some estimates ̵

1; has triggered a tide of tweets by President Trump, who on Thursday threatened military action on the southwestern border of the United States if Mexico could not stop the group.

The participants of the caravan make the trip for several reasons. Some say they flee from gangs who terrorize their neighborhood and seek refuge in Mexico or the United States. Others seek work and more stability for their families. On Wednesday night, hundreds crowded into a refugee home in Guatemala City and slumbered on the floor of a nearby school. On the streets slept more. We asked several why they had decided to travel north and what they had left behind.

"We travel to find a better future for my daughters," said Fanny Rodríguez, with her husband, Edil Moscoso, 26, and her two daughters, Daily Edith, 2, and Yarice, 9 months old. "We do not go because we want fancy things."

She added, "I do not have to give them any luxuries, just what is needed – that my daughters lack food, where my daughters are not lacking clothes, things like these."

The family was from Guatemalan great friendliness and generosity were received when they moved through the country. Strangers had donated food and diapers. "We can not complain," said Mrs. Rodríguez.

Melvin Gómez had plans to go home and migrated north in December, but when he learned about the caravan on television, he decided that now the time had come was.

He called his wife and two children who lived with relatives in La Ceiba, and said goodbye. "She told me to remember her and the kids," he recalls.

"I hope everything is going well"

The family of five had only two suitcases between them, usually wearing clothes and nothing of sentimental significance.

"We did not have anything important," said Ever Escalante.

He and his family – his wife Sarai Najera and their three young children – moved from their home in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, to La Ceiba a year ago after being threatened by street gangs. But they found it hard to make ends meet, and saw in the caravan a good opportunity to emigrate to the United States.

"Instead of moving forward, it's more like going backwards," he said. "There is no work, there is no money, that brings us out of the country."

had set Nery Maldonado on her own to travel north to the United States. He stopped on the way in the Guatemalan town of Esquipulas. When the caravan arrived, he decided to join the procession.

Mr. Maldonado, who has no legs and uses a wheelchair, soon became friends with another man on the same voyage, Omar Orellana, 38. The two have become friendly friends.

Mr. Maldonado has done this trip before. It was during the first attempt, in 2015, that he lost his legs while driving a freight train northbound in Mexico, according to The Associated Press.

"We decided to come because of the economic situation," said Mr. Maldonado. "We wanted to go to the United States to see if we needed some dentures."

Jennifer Paola López, a farm worker, traveled with a group of friends from her neighborhood. They had discussed the possibility of traveling to the United States in the past, but did not have the money to pay the travel expenses or pay smugglers.

Then a neighbor from the caravan told them and Mrs. López and her friends decided to join. She left her family and knew she was hoping for a better life.

"There is no work or anything, you can not live in Honduras, there is no money," she said. "There is no help from the government, there is nothing."

Daniele Volpe reported from Guatemala City and Kirk Semple from Mexico City.


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