New US-bound group of migrants leaves in San Salvador

Salvadoran migrants gather in a caravan to start their journey toward the US, at “Salvador del Mundo” square in San Salvador, on October 28, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 29 October 2018
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New US-bound group of migrants leaves in San Salvador

SAN SALVADOR: A new group of migrants gathered and left from the capital of El Salvador on Sunday, headed for the United States after thousands of other Central Americans began similar journeys in recent weeks, angering US President Donald Trump.
The group of more than 300 Salvadorans that left San Salvador on Sunday came together after thousands of Hondurans in mid-October left their country in a large group, becoming an international news story and a key issue in the US congressional elections.
A second group of Hondurans was moving through Guatemala last week, and at one point numbered more than 1,000 people before beginning to fragment.
Trump and his fellow Republicans have sought to make immigration a major issue before the Nov. 6 elections, in which the party is battling to keep control of Congress.
The Salvadoran migrants organized using social networks like Facebook and WhatsApp over the last couple of weeks, inspired by the group of mostly Hondurans currently crossing Mexico.
Salvadoran police traveled with the group on Sunday as they left San Salvador, the migrants carrying backpacks and water bottles and protecting themselves from the hot sun with hats. Some mothers pushed their children in strollers.
Several migrants, gathered by the capital’s ‘Savior of the World’ statue before leaving, said they were headed to the United States.
“We’re asking the all-powerful to look after us, to guide us, to free us from all that is bad,” shouted Hernan Quinteros, 49, a driver who urged his fellow travelers to tie up their shoes ahead of the long trip.
El Salvador’s left-wing government said it had solidarity with the migrants and respected their right to mobilize, but urged them not to risk their lives on the way.


French police clear fuel protesters as movement wanes

Updated 7 min 6 sec ago
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French police clear fuel protesters as movement wanes

PARIS: French police cleared demonstrators blocking roads and fuel depots Tuesday in a crackdown on the so-called "yellow vest" protests against President Emmanuel Macron that have left two people dead.
Hundreds of thousands of people blockaded roads across France on the weekend, wearing high-visibility yellow vests in a national wave of defiance aimed at 40-year-old centrist Macron.
The protests had waned by Tuesday but the disruption underlined the anger and frustration felt by many motorists, particularly in rural areas or small towns, fed up with what they see as the government's anti-car policies, including tax hikes on diesel.
Macron, who has made a point of not backing down in the face of public pressure during his time in office, called Tuesday for more "dialogue" to better explain his policies.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, meanwhile, urged ruling Republic On The Move lawmakers to stand firm in the face of voter criticism, saying the party would reap the rewards of its "constancy and determination".
Two people have been accidentally killed and 530 people injured, 17 seriously, over four days of protests that have come to encompass a wide variety of grievances over the rising cost of living.
A 37-year-old motorcyclist died Tuesday from injuries sustained a day earlier after being hit by a truck making a u-turn to avoid a roadblock in the southeast Drome region, a judicial source said.
The other victim was a 63-year-old woman accidently killed by a panicked driver in the eastern Savoie region on the first day of protests.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner has instructed police to break up the remaining roadblocks, particularly those around fuel depots and sites of strategic importance.
"We can see today that there are real excesses from a movement that was for the most part conducted in good spirit on Saturday," he told France 2 TV.
The ministry said about 20 "strategic" sites and fuel depots in several regions were cleared of protesters Tuesday.
Some hardliners kept blockades and slowdowns at some tolls, motorway junctions, and roundabouts.
"The movement won't run out of steam," said Olivier Garrigues, a farmworker at one protest in the south. "There are less people because everyone is working. But we are organised."
Several of the injuries were caused by motorists trying to force their way through roadblocks, but some protesters have also been accused of intimidating and endangering motorists.
A 32-year-old man with a history of violence was given a four-month prison sentence by a Strasbourg court for putting lives at risk by taking part in a human chain across a motorway.
Protests have also erupted in Reunion, a French overseas territory island in the Indian Ocean, where authorities introduced a partial curfew in some neighbourhoods after a night of violence.
AFP judicial sources Tuesday denied media reports that a group of men arrested earlier this month in the city of Saint-Etienne on suspicion of plotting an attack had planned to strike during Saturday's fuel protests.
On Tuesday, the "yellow vests" appeared to be losing steam, with only a fraction of the nearly 300,000 people that manned the barricades on Saturday still camped out in the bitter cold.
Further protests are planned for the weekend, with some calling for a blockade of Paris.
The grassroots movement, which has won backing from opposition parties on both the left and right as well as a majority of respondents in opinion polls, accuses Macron of squeezing the less well-off while reducing taxes for the rich.
"It's about much more than fuel. They (the government) have left us with nothing," Dominique, a 50-year-old unemployed technician told AFP at a roadblock in the town of Martigues, near the southern city of Marseille.
Macron's government, trying to improve its environmental credentials, has vowed not to back down on trying to wean people off their cars through fuel taxes.
The government has unveiled a 500-million-euro package of measures to help low-income households, including energy subsidies and higher scrappage bonuses for the purchase of cleaner vehicles.