What is the caravan?

October 24, 2018 GMT

The caravan is largely made up of young men and women with children fleeing Central America’s violence, poverty and corruption. Most are from Honduras, but hundreds have also joined from El Salvador and Guatemala.

Over the years, Mexican advocacy groups organized such caravans to draw attention to the plight of asylum seekers, mostly from Central America.

But this year’s migrant caravan appears to be the biggest ever. Unlike past caravans that were organized mostly in Mexico, this one started spontaneously in Honduras with about 160 people leaving from the gang-plagued city of San Pedro Sula.

The group grew to more than 1,600 by the time it reached the Guatemalan border, fueled by word of mouth and media coverage even as U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted criticism of the caravan.

Migrants have increasingly banded together to travel through Mexico, believing the dangerous journey is safer to make in large numbers. Dozens of Central American migrants have been kidnapped by gangs demanding money or shaken down by police. Some have been killed along the way.

The caravans have also become more popular as smugglers up their prices, charging more than $10,000 to cross a U.S.-Mexico border that is fortified by drones, cameras and agents.