SUCHIATE, Mexico (AP) — Nearly a thousand recent migrants from Guatemala to Mexico formed a group on Saturday to head north together in hopes of reaching the border with the United States.
The group, largely made up of Venezuelan migrants, marched along a highway in southern Mexico, led by a Venezuelan flag with the phrase “Peace, Freedom.” S.O.S. The men, women, children and teenagers were tracked by Mexican National Guard patrols.
Migrants told The Associated Press that they entered Mexico illegally through a river separating the two countries. They said they decided to organize the group and start because many were sleeping rough and had no money to buy food.
“We just want to move on, achieve our American dream and work, because we are all workers here,” said Venezuelan Roseli Gloria, taking a brief break along the highway.
She was carrying a backpack and a piece of rolled up foam to sleep on. She said she had been in Mexico for a week before joining the group.
Group participants said they received little help from Mexican immigration authorities and received mixed and confusing instructions on how to move forward or seek asylum in the United States.
The formation of the latest group of migrants in southern Mexico comes amid a record migratory flow to the United States from Latin American countries. In the 12 months to May 2023, US authorities reported nearly 2.5 million encounters with migrants on its southern border, a slight increase from the previous year.
The journey is not easy, with migrants often the target of kidnapping, extortion and other violence from armed groups in the region. As a result, migrants often travel in groups of hundreds to stay safe.
Migrants from Venezuela previously sought refuge in other South American countries like Colombia and Peru, but are increasingly making the perilous journey through the Darien Gap jungles between Colombia and Panama in an attempt to reach the United States.