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Migrants in caravans shrug their shoulders at American voices, eye change at home

MEXICO CITY – The migrants in a caravan used by President Donald Trump as a campaign issue were almost universally unaware of the results of the US interim elections.

Central Americans were more concerned about the dangers of northern Mexico because they were struggling to reach the border with the United States, still hundreds of miles away, than with whom the US Senate and House of Representatives controls.

Kenya Johana Hernandez, a 26-year-old Honduran farm worker, left her country with her 2-year-old daughter because she could not afford childcare or training. Asked whether her decision to emigrate had anything to do with the American elections, the answer was a simple one, "No".

For her, the caravan was only a safety measure. "If I had come alone with only my daughter, I might not even have gotten this far because it's so dangerous," she said.

Gilberta Raula, 38, from Samala, Guatemala, came to the caravan at the Mexican border because it seemed her best chance to take her 15-year-old daughter out of the country. She left behind six other children, but wants to give her daughter the opportunity to study and work.

She had only the faintest idea of ​​the problems surrounding Tuesday's American midterms.

What she did know, she said, was that & # 39; the US President has acted badly & # 39 ;.

"As we hear it, he does not love anyone," she said about Trump. Said that Trump's Republican party had lost control of the House of Representatives in the US, saying, "Oh, well." She, like others, expressed the hope that it might somehow help their chances of shelter.

Franklin Martinez, a 46-year-old farm worker from La Esperanza, Honduras, said Wednesday that he will probably stay in Mexico City for a while before heading north again, to see if things have changed in the US after the elections.

"Because it is now an anti-immigrant wave," Martinez said. "They are not well received at the border."

Experts agree that the formation of this latest caravan and the others on its way to the American border have much more to do with Central American politics and the current conditions in Mexico, where drug gangs often kidnap migrants for ransom their families in the US.

"The first concern is collective security, there is safety in numbers," says Mexican safety analyst Alejandro Hope. "There is a political logic, but it is not exactly aimed at influencing the American elections."

"It puts pressure on the authorities of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador more than anything else," he said. "This signals that there is a human rights crisis in the northern triangle of Central America."

That opinion was shared by the former Honduran legislator Bartolo Fuentes, who formed the caravan of only a few hundred migrants who left from Honduras on October 13, before growing to no less than 7,000 at its peak. Fuentes told a press conference in the Mexico City stadium, where the migrants are staying, that the caravan is embarrassing the Honduran government "because the world now sees the tragedy with which we live."

Raul Benitez, a security expert at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, said the Republican losses in the House suggest that Trump tried to use the migrants politically, to describe the caravan as an invasion, and it did not work. "

Benitez said the caravan has put as much pressure on Mexico as the United States. After the migrants arrived, Mexico came under pressure to speed up the refugee and asylum process for Central Americans.

"The caravan shows that Mexico could treat these people more humanitarian," said Benitez, "that Mexico should treat these people as Mexico wants the US to treat migrants."

On Wednesday afternoon, Christopher Gascon, the representative of Mexico for the International Organization for Migration, estimated that there were about 6,000 migrants in the sports complex and perhaps another 4,000 in caravans that make their way through southern Mexico.

But some migrants had visited the organization's tent with the question of how they could return home.

"They might not have a clear picture of what they encountered," Gascon said. He said that the first bus leaving Mexico City to take migrants back to their country was scheduled to leave with 40 to 50 people on Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile, other migrants were focusing on the daunting task of reaching the US border and submitting asylum requests there. The American elections took up only a small part of their thoughts.

Nora Torres, a 53-year-old Honduran, was anxiously asking a reporter: "How did he (Trump) do that? Did he do it well or badly? & # 39;

Torres had run a small restaurant but closed it because gangs demanded too much protection money.

For her, Trump's threats were to make it even more difficult to obtain asylum, to hold prosecutors in tent cities and to send as many as 15,000 American troops to the southern border, difficult to understand.

"The United States needs Spanish labor because it's cheaper," she said. "So why do they discriminate against us?"

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