Caravan migrants in Mexico fill new border shelter after rains force exodus

Earlier in the day, streams of migrants laden with heavy backpacks, tents and blankets, much of it soaking wet, loaded buses leaving their original migrants shelter within sight of the border. (AP)
Updated 01 December 2018
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Caravan migrants in Mexico fill new border shelter after rains force exodus

  • The move to a former outdoor concert venue after torrential rains a day earlier reduced the old shelter to a muddy, smelly mess was a welcome relief
  • Trump has dubbed the migrants an invading force that must be stopped, even threatening to shut the US border if Mexico does not deport those gathered in Tijuana

TIJUANA, Mexico: Hundreds of mostly Central American migrants poured into a new shelter on Friday as bus loads fled a filthy, flooded sports complex on the eve of a presidential inauguration in Mexico that could recast the border crisis with US President Donald Trump.
Earlier in the day, streams of migrants laden with heavy backpacks, tents and blankets, much of it soaking wet, loaded buses leaving their original migrants shelter within sight of the border.
Helicopters swooped down nearby a few times and lines of people formed quickly when bottles of water were passed out. Diapers and milk for children were also distributed.
For those among the at least 6,000 migrants who have descended upon the Mexican border city of Tijuana, just south of San Diego on the US side, the move to a former outdoor concert venue after torrential rains a day earlier reduced the old shelter to a muddy, smelly mess was a welcome relief.
“Here it’s better,” said Victor Manuel Argeta.
The 44-year-old native of Usulutan, El Salvador, spoke alongside his wife and two children as he surveyed the limited indoor space while many other caravan migrants set up simple camps in an open square in the middle of the property.
“It’s dry. We have a dry blanket. They gave us mattresses, too,” said Argeta.
He said he joined the caravan to find better job prospects in the United States.
Many of the migrants who made the trek to the East Tijuana property, some 7 miles (11 km) from the border, appeared thankful to be out of the muck even if most will sleep on thin mattresses on a cold, hard floor.
Jorge Alberto Lobo, 21, also from El Salvador, was eager to leave the old shelter as he packed up his few belongings.
“I have the dream, I think we all had it, to get to the other side, to the United States,” he said, but quickly adding that if he does not make it he will likely stay put in Mexico and look for work.
’Respect’
On Saturday, Mexico’s leftist president-elect, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, will take the oath of office in the capital as he seeks to make good on campaign promises to alienate poverty and inequality, in part to help stem the flow of Mexico’s own migrants.
The former mayor of Mexico City has welcomed the caravan migrants in speeches, pledging to offer work visas and even jobs building a major train line he has proposed.
The day before his inauguration, Lopez Obrador was resting with friends at this ranch in southern Chiapas state, near the border with Guatemala, and reaffirmed his support for the migrants.
“Progressive, democratic governments respect migrants, respect the right all of us have as human beings to search out a better life. It’s the most important human right,” he said in a video posted on Twitter.
He made a point of reflecting on the history of migrants north of the border.
“The United States is a country that became a powerhouse because of the work, effort and intelligence of migrants,” he said.
Trump, conversely, has dubbed the migrants an invading force that must be stopped, even threatening to shut the US border if Mexico does not deport those gathered in Tijuana.
To date, Mexican officials have ignored the threat.


French police prepare for fifth wave of yellow vest protests

Updated 26 min 20 sec ago
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French police prepare for fifth wave of yellow vest protests

PARIS: France will deploy tens of thousands of police nationwide and around 8,000 in Paris on Saturday to handle a fifth weekend of ‘yellow vest’ protests, although the movement appears to be losing steam after concessions by President Emmanuel Macron.
The chief of police in Paris said concerns remained about violent groups infiltrating the protests. Anti-riot officers will protect landmarks such as the Arc de Triomphe and prevent people getting close to the presidential palace.
“We need to be prepared for worst-case scenarios,” police chief Michel Delpuech told RTL radio.
He expected businesses in the capital to be less affected this weekend after heavy disruption over the past three weeks when major stores shut, hotels suffered cancelations and tourists stayed away during the usually busy run-up to Christmas.
Nicknamed “Acte V” of the protests, the yellow vest demonstrators will take to the streets this weekend as France recovers from an unrelated attack on a Christmas market in the eastern city of Strasbourg on Tuesday, when a gunman shot and killed three people and wounded several others.
Hundreds of police officers were redeployed to Strasbourg to search for the gunman, who was shot dead in an exchange of fire on Thursday evening.
Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said it was time for the yellow vests to scale down their protests and accept they had achieved their aims. Police officers also deserved a break, he added.
“I’d rather have the police force doing their real job, chasing criminals and combating the terrorism threat, instead of securing roundabouts where a few thousand people keep a lot of police busy,” he said.
TOLL ON THE ECONOMY
Attractions such as the Louvre museum and Opera Garnier will be open this weekend, as will luxury department stores like Galeries Lafayette and Printemps. Last Saturday they were closed as thousands of sometimes violent protesters tore through the city. The previous weekend the Arc de Triomphe was vandalized, cars were overturned and torched and businesses smashed up.
The protests have taken a toll on the economy, with output in the last quarter of the year set to be half initial projections, while Macron’s concessions are likely to push the budget deficit above an EU agreed limit.
The yellow vest movement, which began as a protest against fuel taxes and then grew into an anti-Macron alliance, appears to have calmed since the president announced a series of measures to help the working poor.
However, many people wearing the high-visibility motorists’ safety jackets which are the symbol of the protests were manning barricades outside cities on Friday.
After heavy criticism for not being seen to respond to the protesters’ complaints, Macron made a TV address this week during which he said he understood their concerns and acknowledged the need for a different approach.
As well canceling fuel tax increases that were due to kick in next month, Macron said he would increase the minimum wage by 100 euros a month from January and reduce taxes for poorer pensioners, among other measures.
Since the first yellow vest protests on Nov. 17, supporters have kept up a steady stream of dissent, although the numbers joining marches have steadily fallen. ($1 = 0.8857 euros)