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By Jose Torres

TAPACHULA, Mexico, Nov 18, 2021 (Reuters) – Migrant groups from Haiti and Central America joined forces today as they left the southern Mexican city of Tapachula to head towards the U.S. border.

About 3,000 migrants had arrived in smaller groups near Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala in recent weeks to rest and then continue their way north as part of a bigger caravan.

About 150 people, most of them from Haiti, gatherered at a park between Wednesday evening and Thursday morning to travel north, a Reuters journalist said.

Members of another migrant caravan, meanwhile, also began to advance Thursday from Tapachula where they had waited for months. They were bound for Veracruz after agreeing on meeting points through messaging apps and social networks.

Ana Gomez, a 32-year-old from El Salvador, who was traveling with her three children, her sister and her niece, said she had spent a month in Tapachula.

While her destination is the United States, Gomez said she did not rule out the possibility of staying in Mexico.

“I had to flee my country,” Gomez said, citing threats by criminals as a reason. “A month ago, they came to our house and said if I don’t hand over my daughter, they’ll kill her.”

U.S. authorities arrested more than 1.7 million migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border this fiscal year, the most ever recorded.

Families laid blankets on the ground to put children to sleep, surrounded by backpacks, water bottles and food while adults chatted.

Colorful perforated paper, a traditional decoration from the Day of the Dead festival earlier this month, was still up; a street vendor with a yellow bike tried to sell snacks to migrants with little money to spare.

Haitians Adrian, 26, and his girlfriend Catiana, 24, who both declined to give their surnames, said they had spent two months in Tapachula.

“I left to look for a better life,” he said. “I’m almost out of money. I’m looking for work, but they tell me I have to be Mexican or have to have a visa.”

His destination, he said, was Mexico City, where he was hoping to find work.

The new caravan comes as leaders of the United States, Mexico and Canada were holding talks around issues that also included measures to contain migration.

(Reporting by Jose Torres in Tapachula, Mexico, Writing by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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