Social Issues

Migrant caravan sets out from Honduras bound for US

By German Reyes

San Pedro Sula, Honduras.- Jan 15 (EFE).- More than 700 Hondurans and Nicaraguans left here early Saturday in a quest to reach the greener economic pastures of the United States.

“We’re going because of lack of employment. We’re going to seek a better future,” Miguel Dominguez, an accountant from the central Honduran town of Taulabe, told Efe at the central bus terminal in San Pedro Sula, a city of more than 700,000 residents located around 100 km (60 mi) from the border with Guatemala.

The caravan did not get off to the best of starts, as confusion about the departure time resulted in a division of the migrants into two separate contingents.

Migrants told Efe that while some said the group would leave before dawn, others thought the start time was 10:00 am.

As the clock approached 3:00 am, two men who were part of a party of a dozen people, including women and children, exhorted the migrants who spent the night in the environs of the bus terminal to set out immediately rather than wait.

“Let’s go now. We’re traveling with children. The sun will very strong at 10 and we won’t get far,” a woman said while holding the hand of her 7-year-old son.

A man who identified himself as a Protestant pastor picked up a megaphone and called on the entire group to join in a prayer “that it goes well for us on the road and that God take care of us.”

After the prayer, he asked, “who wants to leave right now and who at 10?,” and a majority opted to go immediately, so some 300 migrants began the journey to the border crossing at Corinto.

The second contingent, comprising at least 400 people, left three hours later.

Since October 2018, when the first caravan headed north, thousands of Hondurans have undertaken the arduous, dangerous trek across Guatemala and Mexico in hopes of being allowed to enter the US.

Factors driving the exodus include the lack of economic opportunity, reflected in figures showing that 70 percent of Honduras’ 9.5 million people are living in poverty, and pervasive violent crime.

The Central American nation is 12 days away from the inauguration of a new president, Xiomara Castro, who campaigned on a pledge to reduce emigration by improving the lives of Hondurans.

Castro is the wife of President Mel Zelaya, who was ousted by the military on June 28, 2009, with just months left in his term, and she won the Nov. 28 elections as the standard-bearer of the leftist Libre party her husband founded.

The migration issue will be on the table when US Vice President Kamala Harris travels to Tegucigalpa for Castro’s inauguration. EFE

gr/dr

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