More than 3,000 migrants gathered in southern Mexico on Sunday to form a caravan in protest against the harsh conditions in Mexico’s detention centers and the slow-moving process to apply for asylum.
The migrants gathered in Tapachula, a city along the border of Mexico and Guatemala, where detention centers are overflowing with undocumented migrants. The migrants hope that by moving together they can raise awareness about the conditions in Mexico’s detention centers and how they are treated by Mexican authorities.
Most of the migrants are Venezuelans fleeing from poverty and harsh living conditions, as well as nationals from Cuba, Ecuador, and Colombia. Yet the new caravan also includes migrants from China and other Asian countries.
The migrants made it about 9 miles (14 kilometers) from Tapachula to the town of Alvaro Obregon before calling it a day and taking a break. They set up their camp at an athletic court in the town. They were undisturbed by local police.
According to authorities in Tapachula, the migrant caravan is expected to reach Mexico City in ten days.
The caravan comes less than a month after more than 40 migrants died in a fire at a detention center near the U.S.-Mexico border. One of the migrants detained in the center lit a mattress on fire. However, the person holding the key to the cells was absent and the migrants inside were unable to escape.
So far, six officials from Mexico’s National Immigration Institute, a guard working at the detention center, and a Venezuelan migrant were arrested and are facing homicide charges in connection to the fire.
“It could well have been any of us,” Salvadoran migrant Miriam Argueta told the Associated Press. “In fact, a lot of our countrymen died. The only thing we are asking for is justice, and to be treated like anyone else.”