Migrant caravan, now smaller, moving through southern Mexico

Santo Domingo Zanatepec, Mexico, Nov 10 (EFE).- A caravan of mostly Central American migrants is heading northwards through the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca intending to get to the US border, and on Wednesday the tired group advanced another 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) on foot, although it is reduced in numbers from its size a few days ago.

The members of the group, which have now moved about 315 km from where they started in Tapachula, on Wednesday arrived at Santo Domingo Zanatepec, on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and have been traveling for almost 20 days.

The migrants walked for four hours along the stretch from the town of El Jicaro to Santo Domingo Zanatepec, the longest trek they have made so far in the region.

Despite the fact that they set out early in the morning, after the first two hours of walking the temperature had risen considerably due to the region’s climate, with temperatures at this time of year generally exceeding 30 C (86 F).

As they walked along the highway, with mounting heat due to the asphalt road surface, the migrants steadily had more and more difficulties and were getting more and more tired.

During the trek, they were accompanied by Civil Protection patrols from Oaxaca and, to prevent accidents, the route was closed to vehicular traffic.

Sarai, a 17-year-old student who dropped her studies in administration in El Salvador to head for the US, on Wednesday was pushing the wheelchair her family members bought in the state of Chiapas in which to transport her mother Yanet, who at age 46 has both feet bandaged after injuring them on the long northward march so far.

“I have sores on my feet. I hurt (them) but I’m going to get better and we’re continuing on because in my country there are no sources of employment,” Yanet told EFE.

“I don’t want to return … to my country. Perhaps, there where I’m going I’ll find a better opportunity,” Sarai added.

Other members of the caravan could not continue and approached the members of the Beta Migrant Protection Group with the National Migration Institute (INM), who supposedly are offering them safe conduct passes allowing them to stay in Mexico for one year.

During the caravan’s progress on Wednesday, some 50 migrants decided to turn themselves over to the authorities rather than continue on their journey.

On Tuesday night, when the caravan passed through an INM checkpoint, dozens of migrants also had decided not to keep going despite the pleas and shouts of others in the group.

Thus, immigration agents estimated that by Tuesday the caravan had been reduced to some 1,000 members.

And they also calculated that in the last 24 hours, another 300 migrants had decided to discontinue the journey.

Many of the caravan members, however, opted to keep going, distrusting the Mexican authorities because they think that if they turn themselves in they will be imprisoned and deported to their countries of origin.

The caravan on Wednesday will remain in Santo Domingo Zanatepec and then will move on to Santiago Niltepec, which is located 32 km farther north.

The migrants are moving forward despite the pain many feel over the Mexican National Guard’s deadly shooting of a Cuban migrant, who was riding in a vehicle along with other people.

In addition, last week, there was at least one clash between migrants and the National Guard, which resulted in a number of arrests and in several officers being injured.

The group got under way after during early September Mexican authorities thwarted the advance of four migrant caravans that departed from Tapachupa, in the state of Chiapas, which borders on Guatemala.

At that time, several United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations criticized the use of force by Mexican authorities to break up the caravans.

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