What happened to the caravan after the mid-term elections?


A group of Central American migrants traveling in a caravan for the US march to the headquarters of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Mexico City on Thursday. About 5,500 migrants who took part in the caravan that began on October 13 in Honduras had arrived in Mexico City by Wednesday, according to the city's Human Rights Commission. (Photo by Alfredo ESTRELLA / AFP) (Alfredo Estrella / AFP / Getty Images)

MEXICO CITY – For most migrants here, the US mid-term elections were a vague voice, a fragment of information that circulated meaninglessly. When the results arrived on Tuesday, they were divided into white plastic tents at an old Olympic stadium, after about a thousand miles on the road. They slept or watched cartoons on a giant inflated screen.

If this week's vote really was "the election of the caravan," as President Trump said, no one had bothered to tell the caravan.

Their journey has never had anything to do with the US elections and the evidence of this disconnection is now evident, while the migrants continue to the north, unaware of American politics as they were two weeks ago.

What happened to the caravan in the wake of the mid-term elections? The same thing that happened every day before. On Wednesday and Thursday mornings, thousands of migrants woke up and planned the trip. They fed their children. They smoked cigarettes. They prayed.

"There were rumors that Donald Trump had supposedly lost, but I do not know if it's true, I know there were elections," said Avel Antonio Mejia, 21, of Ocotepeque, Honduras. "Many times other people pass on news by word of mouth, but we do not know if it's true or false."

Most of the migrants here were not aware of the rumors that the very existence of the caravan – its own journey – was a political stunt. Those tweets and news were published as they traveled through northern Guatemala and southern Mexico, many without phones or Internet access.

How the world will consider the caravan now, in the wake of the elections, is a different question. The US military has inexplicably changed the name of its deployment to the border from "Operation Faithful Patriot" simply to "support to the borders". The number of people who type "caravan" on Google is blocking. Trump only mentioned the caravan once at the Thursday marathon press conference. The Americans were sure that news coverage had slowed down.

"Strange that the media are no longer on the history of the trailer" tweeted Ben Rhodes, a former Obama helper.

On Thursday, there were many journalists in the stadium with migrants, another aspect of the journey that travelers had become accustomed to. They had been interviewed and photographed. They had been videotaped from the camera and from drone and iPhone. But they rarely saw where those images were published, or the words that accompanied them, like the title of the banner of Fox News, "Could Carovana bring unknown diseases?"

Mejia said he had been interviewed seven times since he had entered Guatemala.

Kellyn Godoy Hernández, 24, from Valle, in Honduras, saw groups of men lined up to grab pairs of spare jeans from a row of donated cardboard boxes. He had heard the same voice, that Donald Trump had lost the election.

"Personally, I am relieved because we know that he has denied us entry," he said.

But she was not sure that the news, exchanged among the migrants in the tents set up to distribute the food, was accurate. His Samsung phone had been ruined in the rain, so he had no way of confirming the voice alone.

Jonny Alexander Portillo, 24, and his cousin, Gerlin Josué Maldonado, 19, leaned against a jacaranda tree outside the stadium on Thursday afternoon. They had heard that there would be elections in the United States and that if one side had won, it could have been favorable for the rest of the trip. But they had not yet heard of the election result.

Eleven of them had traveled together from Ocotepeque farmland together, and they did not intend to go back.

"We had heard that this was the first of the two elections – and if a group had won, it would have improved our situation – it would help us not to suffer on the road, or once we reached the border," said Portillo.

He had not yet figured out from what party he was supposed to cheer.


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