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Latin American caravan heads to US seeking safety, better life despite Trump's wrath

Jorge Urrea, center, walks while carrying a large luggage bag, along with his son Jorge and wife Cindy in the city of Cordoba in southeastern Mexico on Nov. 5, 2018. (Mainichi/Taichi Yamamoto)

CORDOBA, Mexico -- It was early morning, but Jorge Urrea, 24, was already walking. Beside him were his wife Cindy, 25, and their 4-year-old son Jorge. The Honduran family was among thousands of people in a "caravan," heading to the United States after fleeing their dangerous, poor home countries in Latin America.

Those people are seeking to enter the U.S. despite the vehement refusal of President Donald Trump, who describes their advance as "an invasion" in an apparent bid to energize his conservative base for the Nov. 6 midterm Congressional elections.

"I want to raise my child in a safe place," said the senior Jorge as he held his son's hand.

The father was carrying a heavy bag containing clothes and blankets, and the mother had a backpack and a bag in her hand. Jorge, the son, kept coughing as he struggled to follow his parents. The boy began to develop the condition right after the trio joined the caravan on Oct. 14, and the family could not find enough medication for him, the parents said. As a worried Cindy put him on her back, Jorge smiled.

Urrea was a carpenter in the northern Honduras city of San Pedro Sula. The area was controlled by a gang, and even just traveling was a challenge. He was out of a regular job for three years, and decided that feeding his family with odd jobs such as lumbering is not possible anymore. He joined the caravan the day after he heard about the group passing through his area.

The Urreas have traveled for roughly 1,500 kilometers in about three weeks up to Nov. 5. They paid for transport on buses and trucks here and there, but their money is running out as they try to save by walking or hitch-hiking. "I brought all I had with me. I have no intention of going back to my country again," said Urrea.

Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador have seen many of their residents fleeing abroad, an issue that has caught the attention of the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees since 2009. A number of cases emerged where only children traveled all the way to the U.S., and in 2014 the then Obama administration began supporting their home countries.

President Trump keeps asserting the caravan participants are "criminals," drawing wide public attention to the group. But the Urreas keep carrying on. "The United States is a nation of law, and it would not do rough things," said Urrea. This immigration issue is one of the biggest points of contention in the midterm elections, as the poll results came pouring in on Nov. 6 (Nov. 7 Japan time).

(Japanese original by Taichi Yamamoto, Sao Paulo Bureau)

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