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Voices From the Caravan: Why These Honduran Migrants Are Heading North

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Originally published by The NY Times

For days they have traveled north from their homes in Honduras, walking, taking buses and hitching rides in cars and trucks. They have carried only the essentials in small bags and knapsacks.

As the large caravan of migrants entered Guatemala on its way toward the United States, more people had joined the march, which has fractured into smaller units. By Wednesday night, some had stopped to rest and sleep in Guatemala City. There were many families and pregnant women among the ranks.

The caravan — as many as 4,000 people by some estimates — has prompted a flurry of tweets from President Trump, who on Thursday threatened military action at the southwestern border of the United States if Mexico failed to halt the group.

The caravan’s participants are making the journey for several reasons. Some say they are fleeing gangs that terrorize their neighborhoods and are seeking sanctuary in Mexico or the United States. Others are in search of work and more stability for their families.

On Wednesday night, hundreds crammed into a migrant shelter in Guatemala City and bedded down on the floor of a nearby school. Scores more slept on the streets. We asked several why they had chosen to make the journey north and what they had left behind.

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Fanny Rodríguez and her husband, Edil Moscoso, with their two daughters, Daily Edith and Yarice.CreditDaniele Volpe for The New York Times

“We’re traveling to find a better future for my daughters,” said Fanny Rodríguez, who was with her husband, Edil Moscoso, 26, and their two daughters Daily Edith, 2, and Yarice, 9 months old. “We’re not going because we want fancy things.”

She added: “I don’t have to give them luxuries, only what’s necessary — that my daughters don’t lack food, that my daughters don’t lack clothes. Things like that.”

The family had been received with considerable kindness and generosity by Guatemalans as they made their way through the country. Strangers had donated food and diapers. “We can’t complain,” Ms. Rodríguez said.

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Melvin Gómez.CreditDaniele Volpe for The New York Times

Melvin Gómez had plans to leave his home and migrate north in December, but when he heard about the caravan on television, he decided now was the time to go.

He called his wife and two children, who were staying with relatives in La Ceiba, and said goodbye. “She told me to remember her and the children,” he recalled.

“I hope everything turns out O.K.”

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Ever Escalante and Sarai Najera with their three children, Joseph, Hasley and Ithan.CreditDaniele Volpe for The New York Times

The family of five had only two suitcases between them, carrying mostly clothes and nothing of sentimental significance.

“We didn’t have anything important,” Ever Escalante said.

He and his family — his wife, Sarai Najera, and their three young children — moved a year ago from their home in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, to La Ceiba after receiving threats from street gangs. But they have had a hard time making ends meet, and saw the caravan as a good opportunity to migrate to the United States.

“Instead of getting ahead, it’s more like we went backward,” he said. “There isn’t work, there isn’t money. That’s what’s driving us out of the country.”

Lindell Marroquín, a single mother with five daughters, had begun the journey with her brother and three of her children. Now, she has only two of her girls with her.

In the chaos along the way, the family became separated. She said her brother was somewhere with one of the daughters, while she remained with the other two, Dariana, 5, and Sofia, 1.

“I don’t know if they’re ahead of me or behind me,” Ms. Marroquín said.

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Nery Maldonado, left, and Omar Orellana.CreditDaniele Volpe for The New York Times

Nery Maldonado had set out on his own to travel north to the United States. He stopped along the way in the Guatemalan town of Esquipulas. When the caravan arrived, he decided to join the procession.

Mr. Maldonado, who has no legs and uses a wheelchair, soon became friends with another man on the same journey, Omar Orellana, 38. The two have become traveling buddies.

Mr. Maldonado has made this journey once before. It was during that first try, in 2015, that he lost his legs while riding a northern-bound cargo train in Mexico, according to The Associated Press.

“We decided to come because of the economic situation,” Mr. Maldonado said. “We wanted to go to the United States to see if we could ask for a couple of prosthetics.”

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Jennifer Paola López with her boyfriend and friends.CreditDaniele Volpe for The New York Times

Jennifer Paola López, a farmworker, was traveling with a group of friends from her neighborhood. They had discussed the possibility of heading to the United States in the past, but didn’t have the money to cover the cost of travel or pay smugglers.

Then, a neighbor told them about the caravan, and Ms. López and her friends decided to join. She left her family behind, knowing she was their hope for a better life, too.

“There isn’t work or anything. You can’t live in Honduras. There isn’t money,” she said. “There’s no help from the government. There’s nothing.”

Daniele Volpe reported from Guatemala City, and Kirk Semple from Mexico City.

Read more:https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/18/world/americas/honduras-migrant-caravan-voices.html?action=click&module=In%20Other%20News&pgtype=Homepage&action=click&module=News&pgtype=Homepage&login=email&auth=login-email

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