ISLA, Mexico (AP) – A 4,000-strong caravan of Central American migrants traveling through Mexico is divided into several groups, one of whom spends one night in a coastal town of Veracruz and other migrants heading for the country's capital.
The divisions arrived on a tense day when excitement flared and some migrants discussed caravan organizers and criticized Mexican officials. They were upset that Veracruz Governor Miguel Angel Yunes had declined an offer late on Friday to offer busses to bring the migrants to Mexico City.
The migrants emigrated to the city of Isla, about 700 kilometers south of the US border, where several thousand stopped to rest, eat, and receive medical care. They intended to spend the night there before leaving at 5am on their way to the city of Cordoba.
Other migrants, mostly men and the younger members of the group, were running or traveling towards Puebla and Mexico City. They squatted on the track for the night in Juan Rodriguez Clara or Tierra Blanca.
"We think it's better to continue with the caravan, we will stick with it and respect the organizers," said 32-year-old Luis Euseda from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, who travels to Isla with his wife Jessica Fugon. "Others went ahead, maybe they have no destination, but we have a destination and it has arrived."
Caravan organizers have asked in the last few days after three weeks on the road, with hitching rides and walks around buses. With the scattered group, some questions have raised whether the caravan would hold together.
In a statement, the migrants cursed Mexican officials for directing them north through the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz, calling it the "path of death." A walk through the sugar fields and orchards of Veracruz takes them through a federal state where hundreds of migrants have disappeared in recent years. They are victims of kidnappers who demand ransom payments.
Authorities in Veracruz said they found remains of at least 174 people buried in secret tombs in September. Some security experts have asked if these facilities belonged to migrants.
20-year-old migrant Gerardo Perez said he was tired. "They play with our dignity, if only you could have seen the happiness of people last night when they told us that we would go by bus and not today," he said.
The "strength in numbers" caravan strategy has enabled them to mobilize support on their way through Mexico, and has encouraged subsequent migrants to try their luck with a caravan.
Mexico faces the unprecedented situation that three caravans totaling more than 500 kilometers in length and more than 6,000 migrants have been built in the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca and Veracruz.
On Friday, a caravan from El Salvador waded across the Suchiate River to Mexico, bringing 1,000 to 1,500 people to the US border.
This caravan initially tried to cross the bridge between Guatemala and Mexico, but the Mexican authorities told them they had to show passports and visas and enter groups of 50 for processing.
Another caravan, also with about 1,000 to 1,500 inhabitants, traveled to Mexico earlier this week and is now in Chiapas. This group includes Hondurans, Salvadorans and some Guatemalans.
The first, largest group of mainly Honduran migrants arrived in Mexico on 1 October.
Mexican officials seem to be in conflict with one another, whether they want to support or hinder their travels.
Immigration agents and the police have occasionally arrested migrants in the smaller caravans. But several mayors have rolled out the welcome mat for migrants who have reached their cities – for food and campsites.
Mexico's Interior Ministry says that nearly 3,000 of the migrants in the first caravan have sought sanctuary in Mexico and hundreds more have returned home.
With or without the help of the government, uncertainty awaits us.
President Donald Trump has ordered US troops to the Mexican border in response to the caravans. More than 7,000 active troops were invited to send to Texas, Arizona and California before the general elections.
He plans to sign an order next week that could result in large-scale migrants crossing the southern border and blocking anyone who was illegally caught seeking asylum.
Amy Guthrie, Associated Press author in Mexico City, contributed to this report.