Caravan of up to 2,000 migrants headed to the US from Africa, the Caribbean, and Central America is abruptly stopped and detained by Mexico

Monday, October 14, 2019
By Paul Martin

It’s estimated up to 2,000 people were part of the caravan stopped Saturday
Hundreds of migrants were said to have been detained on Sunday
The migrants were largely from Africa, the Carribean and Central America
They were heading north through Mexico, attempting to reach the US
Mexican National Guard agents and police stopped the caravan on the highway
The migrants were put on buses to take them back where they had started
It’s unclear if the migrants will be deported back to their home countries

14 October 2019

Authorities in Southern Mexico detained hundreds of African, Caribbean and Central American migrants who were heading north Sunday as part of an up to 2,000-person caravan aiming to reach the United States.

The group set out before sunrise Saturday from the town of Tapachula, Mexico, where many had been marooned for months unsuccessfully trying to get transit visas. They carried heavy backpacks, babies and parcels on their heads.

Just before dusk, after having trudged more than 20 miles north, they were surrounded by hundreds of National Guard agents and police who persuaded the exhausted migrants to board vans back to Tapachula. Children cried, and women complained angrily about waiting months for papers. It was unclear if any would be deported.

Witnesses told Reuters that the caravan included up to 2,000 people and that about 500 members of Mexico’s National Guard military police blocked the highway on both sides. Some of the police were also seen chasing migrants as they fled into neighboring fields. It was estimated that about 150 of those migrants who were stopped elected to walk back to Tapachula on foot.

The crackdown on the caravan, many of whose members were of African descent, underlined the sharp reversal from the immigration policy at work in Mexico a year ago, when officials looked the other way as large groups of migrants traversed the country heading for the U.S. But under pressure from Washington, the government has been taking a tougher stance in dealing with migrants, and many Mexicans are being less welcoming.

Salva Lacruz, from the Fray Matías de Córdova Human Rights Center in Tapachula, called the roundup a ‘human hunt’ and noted officials waited until the migrants had tired out before forcing them into vans.

Sending the migrants back south was an ‘exercise in cruelty,’ Lacruz said, saying the migrants have come to Mexico because ‘they need international protection.’

About half of the migrants in the caravan were black, including Haitians, estimated Lacruz, who accompanied the group.

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