Hundreds of Mexican police have on several occasions intercepted caravans laden with hundreds of US-bound migrants on the Mexico-Guatemala border. The routine is mostly met by a push-back. Hundreds of migrants cross through the border, some legally, and some illegally. It is not clear if any of them have been turned back.
In what seemed like a rush hour on Friday, migrants burst through a Guatemala border fence, rushing on to the bridge over the Suchiate River. Men and women were seen, some with babies all looking worked-out with sweat and space to breath as the stormed and climbed the barrier –tearing it down in the process. According to reports “They defied the Mexican authorities’ entreaties for an orderly crossing and US President Donald Trump’s threats of retaliation.”
It was a showdown on Friday as it was reported that “they were met by a wall of police with riot shields on the Mexican side of the bridge. About 50 managed to push their way through before officers unleashed pepper spray and the rest retreated, joining the sea of humanity on the bridge,
“Police and immigration agents began letting small groups of 10, 20 or 30 people through the gates if they wanted to apply for refugee status. Once they file a claim, they can go to a shelter to spend the night.
“Some migrants, tired of waiting, jumped off the bridge into the Suchiate River on Friday. They risked drowning over defeat. When asked why he wanted to jump, one 16-year-old said, “there are no jobs here.”,
“Some organized a rope brigade to ford its muddy waters or floated across on rafts operated by local residents who usually charge a dollar or two to make the crossing. As dawn broke Saturday, hundreds of migrants awoke amid garbage that had already piled up on the bridge. Without bathrooms, a foul odour wafted through the air.”
One Jose Yanez who had slept with no blanket, vowed to continue, “From here, we’re going on. From here, there’s no turning back,” the 25-year-old farmer had said, adding that he makes 150 lempiras a day in Honduras, or about $6, and has no work benefits.
A Mexican marine official who with a loudspeaker approached the gate and told migrants they would be taken in trucks to “a humanitarian attention centre” in Tapachula, a border city in the Mexican state of Chiapas. But the official did not say when this would happen.
In recent years, migrants have chosen to be banded together to travel enmasse regularly,“but this caravan was unusual for its huge size,” said Victor Clark Alfaro, a Latin American studies professor at San Diego State University. “It grabs one’s attention that the number of people in these kinds of caravans is on the rise,” Clark Alfaro said. “It is migration of a different dimension.”
According to Elizabeth Oglesby, a professor at the University of Arizona’s Centre for Latin American Studies, “people join caravans like this because it’s a way to make the journey in a relatively safe manner and avoid having to pay thousands of dollars to smugglers.”
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said in an address to the nation on Friday night said that a large group of migrants had “tried to enter Mexican territory irregularly, attacking and even hurting some elements of the Federal Police.”
“Mexico does not permit and will not permit entry into its territory in an irregular fashion, much less in a violent fashion,” he said.
Reports have it that the U.S. president has made it clear to Mexico that he is monitoring its response. On Thursday he threatened to close the U.S. border if Mexico didn’t stop the caravan. Later that day he tweeted a video of Mexican federal police deploying at the Guatemalan border and wrote: “Thank you Mexico, we look forward to working with you!” the report said.