Migrant caravan enters Mexico City to shelter at stadium

First in migrant caravan reach Mexico City still hundreds of miles from U.S. border

First in migrant caravan reach Mexico City still hundreds of miles from U.S. border

Thousands of migrants travelling through central America have reached Mexico City.

Arriving in Mexico City, some migrants visited the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a major pilgrimage site, to thank the Virgin Mary for watching over them during the journey.

The caravan - which has become a key talking point for President Trump in the final lead-up to Tuesday's midterm elections - is expected to stay in the stadium for a few days. "Others went ahead, maybe they have no goal, but we do have a goal and it is to arrive".

"This is interesting but tough news", he reflected.

"Donald Trump is not the master of the Earth".

"We left fear behind in Honduras", said Lester Alvarado, 28, as he trudged along the highway in Veracruz on Monday. Migrants pitched tents in the parking lot and constructed makeshift shelters from plywood covered with blankets and tarps. The Oxfam charity offered to donate 20 portable toilets.

The stadium's enclosed space and government intervention makes it hard for aid workers to reach the migrants, said Nancy Rojas, an Oxfam charity worker who has accompanied the migrants for weeks. The facility has a capacity to hold 6,000, officials said, and four big tents set up for sleeping filled up.

Still hundreds of miles from the USA border, the migrants dozed on thin mattresses with blankets to ward off the chill in a city some 7,300 feet (2,240 metres) above sea level, a big change after trudging for three weeks in tropical heat.

One group of at least 1,000 caravan participants headed out at daybreak from the town of Córdoba, in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, hoping to hitchhike the remaining 300km, past the towering Pico de Orizaba - Mexico's highest mountain - to the national capital.

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The human rights commission said it planned to set up more tents and eating areas.

But about 75 percent of the caravan are "women, children, the elderly and other vulnerable people", and the rest "are mostly young men with their families", according to Gustavo Rodriguez Zarate, who helped host them over the weekend as head of migrant support programs for the Catholic archdiocese of Puebla. City officials administered vaccines for tetanus and influenza.

Trump has seized on the caravan and portrayed it as a major threat, even though such caravans have happened regularly over the years and largely passed unnoticed.

Thousands camp out in the city before continuing their journey to the US border; William La Jeunesse reports from Mexico on the progress.

The migrants generally say they are fleeing rampant poverty, gang violence, and political instability primarily in the Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.

The fiasco prompted numerous migrants to push forward to the capital, leaving behind slower-moving family groups with children. But he said he had no way to work back home in Villanueva, Guatemala, where he had to close his internet cafe after gang members extorted him, then robbed his customers, and finally stole his computers. "And when one does find a little job, they kill you for the money", she said. Others gave themselves sponge baths or lounged in the shade of improvised tents. "I want to move on", said Francisco Redondo, 40, a Honduran who said he worked construction for 12 years in California.

The migrants hope to gather together in Mexico City to seek medical care and wait for stragglers.

Mexico City is more than 600 miles from the nearest USA border crossing at McAllen, Texas. A caravan last spring opted for a much longer route to Tijuana in the far northwest, across from San Diego.

Numbering more than 4,000 now, the Central Americans have been trekking steadily from their home countries in hot, unsanitary conditions in an attempt to reach Mexico's shared border with the United States and ask for asylum.

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