By Susan Shand
15 October, 2018

The migrant caravan that started in San Pedro Sula in northern Honduras has grown as it crosses the country.

Some people are walking. Some are in vehicles. But they all seem to have a common goal – a better life.

Many of them hope to find that life in the United States.

Bartolo Fuentes is the organizer of the march. He told the Reuters news agency that the migrants are fleeing poverty and violence back home. San Pedro Sula has one of the highest murder rates in the world. Sixty-four percent of families in Honduras live in poverty.

Honduran family Nolvia Luja, left, Willian Bonilla, and their son Wilmer Bonilla, who attended the annual Migrants Stations of the Cross caravan for migrants' rights, rest at a shelter in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco state, Mexico, April 18, 2018.
Honduran family Nolvia Luja, left, Willian Bonilla, and their son Wilmer Bonilla, who attended the annual Migrants Stations of the Cross caravan for migrants' rights, rest at a shelter in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco state, Mexico, April 18, 2018.

The caravan's population has grown to an estimated 1,700 people. When the caravan began in San Pedro Sula, there were about 1,000 marchers.

Local media reports and social media have spread word of the large migration. Many people who had been planning to leave Honduras thought that traveling in a large group would help keep them safer. So, they joined the caravan.

The Associated Press reports that some families arrived with babies. Most who joined carried only a small bag.

American Vice President Mike Pence recently told the presidents of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala to put an end to the mass migrations. Pence said, "Tell your people: Don't put your families at risk by taking the dangerous journey north to attempt to enter the United States illegally."

American President Donald Trump has threatened to stop giving aid to countries that permit the passage of such caravans.

But his threat does not mean much to people who are already extremely poor and who want better, safer lives for themselves and their children.

Dunia Montoya is a volunteer who is helping the migrants in Honduras. Montoya told the Associated Press, "There's a misery and a violence that is overwhelming people. People no longer have faith in this country and they are fleeing."

On Sunday night, the caravan arrived in Ocotepeque, a Honduran town near the Guatemalan border. The group's aim is to cross through Guatemala and into Mexico.

Some of the migrants will seek refugee protection in Mexico. Others will request a visa to enter the United States. Some who are not given visas may then try to enter the U.S. illegally.

Mexico released a statement about the caravan on Saturday. The statement said Mexico would not give entry visas to people who do not meet "the requirements to transit toward a neighboring country." Mexico also said it does not give visas at border entry stations.

Roberto Castro is a 26-year old Honduran bus driver and laborer. He has had difficulty finding work. He joined the caravan because he put his two young children and their mother on a bus in San Pedro Sula two weeks ago. He has not heard from them in days. He said he hopes to find them along the caravan path between Honduras and the United States.

As he cried, Castro told the AP, "It hurts, because one just wants an opportunity."

I'm Ashley Thompson.

VOA's Fern Robinson reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

Write to us in the Comments Section or on 51VOA.COM.

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Words in This Story

caravan – n. a group of people traveling together on a long journey

bag - n. a container made of thin material (such as paper, plastic, or cloth) that opens at the top and is used for holding or carrying things

misery – n. extreme unhappiness and difficulties

overwhelm – v. to cause someone to have too many things to deal with

faith - n. strong belief or trust in someone or something

transit – v. the act of people moving from one plave to another