Thousands of Venezuelan migrants given temporary visas in Mexico

Thousands of Venezuelan migrants given temporary visas in Mexico

Thousands of mostly Venezuelan migrants were given temporary Mexican visas Wednesday as they prepared to continue their trek to the United States.

The migrants had set up a temporary camp on a basketball court in the southern Mexican town of Huixtla, some 40 kilometers from where they began their journey on Monday close to the Guatemala border.

Immigration authorities in Huixtla began slowly processing temporary visas for the migrants Wednesday, which will allow them to stay in Mexico for 30 days without being deported, said Luis Garcia Villagran, a coordinator with the Human Dignity Center NGO that is accompanying the caravan.

A Mexican government official confirmed to the AFP that humanitarian visas were being issued to the migrants, but Garcia said the process was slow.

We're going to the northern border! "We're going with permits, without permits, with buses, without buses, however they want," said Garcia Villagran.

We will leave on foot. He added tomorrow at 6 am 1100 GMT.

The national immigration center in Huixtla has become a bottleneck for undocumented migrants arriving from Central America, leaving the national immigration center overwhelmed.

The caravan of people fleeing poverty, violence and political oppression in their homelands was set to begin on Monday in the same week that US President Joe Biden will host the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, with migration one of the main agenda items.

The US announced on Tuesday that it would provide $1.9 billion of private funding to Central America in order to slow down the migration wave.

According to the human rights ombudsman's office, the most recent caravan is made of around 11,000 people, including a group of 70 with handicaps.

Venezuelan Julio Andrade, 43, who lost a leg in a traffic accident, told AFP he was migrating for a better future because the situation in my country is terrible. There is no employment, security or medicines. While waiting, Venezuelans sang their national anthem and joked about President Nicolas Maduro.

Another Venezuelan, 29-year-old Gleidys, said she could not understand why Mexican authorities were making it so hard to get a temporary visa.

She said that she doesn't want to stay here because she's passing through.

More than six million Venezuelans have left the country in recent years because of the economic and political crises there, according to the UN.

The migrant caravans that traversed Mexico in 2018 and 2019 sparked tensions with the administration of then-US president Donald Trump.

More than 300,000 undocumented migrants were detained in Mexico since then and more than 300,000 undocumented migrants were detained there in 2021.