Honduran Migrant Caravan Heads To US Amid Trump Threats
Hundreds of Hondurans are making their way to the U.S., fleeing violence and poverty, in the second caravan of the year to provoke a denouncement from President Trump.
The mass exodus started last Friday from San Pedro Sula, with people traveling by foot, hitchhiking and hopping on buses. Some estimates of the caravan size are upwards of 3,000 people.
The caravan was organized in part by a former Honduran lawmaker named Bartolo Fuentes. Fuentes had been posting Facebook Live videos along the way, talking about the bloodshed and hunger the people are fleeing.
"They don't go because they want to, they go because they have to," Fuentes said. "Sirs of the government and sirs of the U.S., be reasonable. Use your head. Your repressive actions are not going to stop people. The reasons they're leaving are more powerful than all the risks."
He addressed President Trump directly, saying: "Sir Trump, you are supporting a corrupt government."
Last year, the U.S. provided Honduras about $181 million in aid to finance security and poverty reduction programs, including $4.5 million "to help purchase U.S.-made weapons, defense articles, services, and military training." On Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted that "no more money or aid will be given to Honduras" if the caravan isn't stopped.
The United States has strongly informed the President of Honduras that if the large Caravan of people heading to the U.S. is not stopped and brought back to Honduras, no more money or aid will be given to Honduras, effective immediately!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2018
The same morning of Trump's tweet, media organizations in Guatemala reported that Fuentes had been arrested by Guatemalan police.
Alex Mensing is with Pueblo Sin Fronteras, a migrant rights group that has organized previous caravans including the last one to capture Trump's attention. He said it's hypocritical for the U.S. government to order a stop to this caravan.
He said the money that the U.S. provides to Central American governments fuels the bloodshed there.
“The current state of structural violence that causes people to have to abandon their homes in Central America is the direct result of impunity, corruption, intervention by the local governments and the U.S. government," he said.
On Monday, the migrant group had successfully passed a Guatemalan police blockade near the border with Honduras after members of the caravan sung at the police, holding up crucifixes and Honduran flags.
Mensing said his group had nothing to do with this caravan, but that Pueblo Sin Fronteras may help the Hondurans when they arrive in southern Mexico. He said Mexico's federal police and military are already involved in "repressive" actions against Central Americans at the southern border, with asylum seekers being rounded up with force and deported.
Mexico has received millions of dollars in U.S. aid to beef up its southern border security and to help with deportations of Central Americans.