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Migrant caravan grows as it crosses southern Mexico

VILLA COMALTITLAN, Mexico (AP) – A growing caravan of migrants filled the square in this Chiapas state town on Wednesday afternoon after covering an additional 13 miles of its trek through southern Mexico.

About 2,000 migrants left the southern town of Tapachula, near the Guatemalan border, on Saturday. Although the multitude is difficult to count, it appeared noticeably larger when it left Huixtla after a day of rest and its leaders estimated its size at 4,000. It reached the town of Villa Comaltitlan on Wednesday.

“The caravan is like a magnet, it will suck people in, migrants who were in the cities (of coastal Chiapas) join,” said Irineo Mújica, an immigration activist with the organization People without Borders.

One of them was Bayron Zavala, a Nicaraguan migrant, who, hearing that the caravan was moving slowly, got on a bicycle and caught up with them in Huixtla. He said he would walk with them “as far as God gives us the strength … if possible, continue to the United States.”

Without any problem, the migrants passed a customs, immigration and military checkpoint where authorities usually seize drugs and search for smugglers.

Although it is still significantly smaller than the trailers in 2018 and 2019, it is the largest group moving in southern Mexico since the start of the pandemic early last year. In January, a caravan left Honduras, but Guatemalan authorities dispersed it.

Other groups that left Tapachula this year number in the hundreds. All were dissolved by Mexican authorities, sometimes with excessive force. These groups were mainly composed of Haitian migrants. This caravan is mainly made up of Central Americans.

The National Guard has not attempted to intervene since it tried to detain the Tapachula migrants on Saturday. There were clashes and a child was injured.

Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said on Monday that the government would act “cautiously”, respecting the law and respecting human rights.

Mexico has deployed thousands of soldiers, police and immigration officials to the south, and in recent years no significant group has emerged from states bordering Guatemala.

Even so, entire families keep trying. Cristina Romero wants to travel to the United States for treatment for her 12-year-old son who is suffering from developmental delay.

Romero had applied for asylum in Mexico, but after four months of waiting, the answer came back negative. “They told me I could appeal the case, but it might come out the same way,” she said. “Then I heard about this trailer and I was ready to come. “

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