Hundreds of Hondurans set off toward US in new caravan

Many migrants when caught, most are processed by the authorities, then released pending a court date, and authorities say they are mostly never seen again as they meld into US society. (AFP)
Updated 15 January 2019
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Hundreds of Hondurans set off toward US in new caravan

  • Central American migrant caravans have become a flashpoint in the debate over US immigration policy
  • Between 600 and 800 Hondurans have joined the caravan

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras: Hundreds of Honduran migrants began the long trek north on Monday, part of new US-bound caravan that hopes to succeed even as a previous wave of Central Americans were unable to quickly enter the United States.
Central American migrant caravans have become a flashpoint in the debate over US immigration policy, as President Donald Trump has remained adamant that the migrants will be barred from crossing the border.
Television footage on Monday showed several hundred people in the violent city of San Pedro Sula huddled together and waving Honduran flags as they began a journey that will likely take weeks or even months to reach the US-Mexico border.
Between 600 and 800 Hondurans have joined the caravan, according to an estimate provided by Miroslava Serpas, head of migrant affairs with the CIPRODEH human rights research center that is accompanying the group.
Last October, another migrants caravan left Honduras made up of men, women and children, mostly claiming that they were fleeing entrenched poverty and gangland violence back home.
While some 2,500 people from that caravan remain in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, more than 7,000 have returned to Honduras, according to Honduran officials.
“I’m determined to find a good job in the United States,” said 24-year-old caravan member Darwin Perez.
“It’s a difficult road ahead but I hope President Trump’s heart might soften, and that he won’t be so hard and will let us enter,” he added.
Other migrants, some traveling with spouses and children, echoed Perez’s dream to find work in the United States.
Trump has repeatedly vowed to stop the Central American caravans, sending troops to reinforce the border and describing the migrants as an invading force.


Russia’s Port of Vladivostok prepares to host Kim Jong Un

Updated 19 April 2019
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Russia’s Port of Vladivostok prepares to host Kim Jong Un

  • Russian media were quick to report preparations were underway for the summit to take place in Vladivostok
  • Proximity is no doubt important for Kim, who is rumored to travel aboard his armored train

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is expected in Russia’s far-eastern port Vladivostok in the coming days, according to reports that have prompted excitement and concern among local residents.
After weeks of speculation, the Kremlin announced that Kim will visit Russia to hold his first talks with President Vladimir Putin in late April. It gave no details on a date or place, citing “security reasons.”
Russian media were quick to report preparations were underway for the summit to take place in Vladivostok, home to Moscow’s Pacific Fleet.
The port lies only about 130 kilometers (80 miles) from Russia’s short border with North Korea. This proximity is no doubt important for Kim, who is rumored to travel aboard his armored train.
The 35-year-old will be following in the footsteps of his father Kim Jong Il, who met the newly elected Putin in Vladivostok in 2002.
The far eastern city rarely sees major international events, and some locals are happy for the city to be in the spotlight.
“Any visit is good, whether it’s an enemy or a friend,” said Danil, a student at Vladivostok’s Far Eastern Federal University, billed by the media as a possible venue for the summit.
He welcomed the talks, saying “you can only make decisions through dialogue and communication.”
Nadezhda, a native of the city, said it will be a global event and “will be a boost for development in our city.”
Authorities this week were busy cleaning garbage near railways leading to the city, Russian media reported.
“The depressing view from the train window does not give a positive impression to guests of Vladivostok arriving by train,” an official from the local branch of Russian Railways told the Interfax news agency.
Nadezhda said she was “absolutely not afraid of (North Korea’s) nuclear program” and would like to see the country.
North Korea said this week it was testing nuclear weapons after a round of talks with the US ended in failure.
But Anna Marinina was less enthusiastic about the summit, and said that if Pyongyang did use its weapons, Vladivostok would be in the firing line.
“The people that panic the most about North Korea are safe on the other side of the ocean,” she said.
“If something were to happen, it would fall on us.”
Putin has long said he was ready to meet with Kim and is preparing to play a bigger role in nuclear negotiations with Moscow’s Cold War-era ally.
The last meeting between Russian and North Korean heads of state was in 2011, when Kim’s father traveled by train to Siberia, where he took a boat ride on Lake Baikal and held tightly guarded talks with then president Dmitry Medvedev.
There is a chance however that fresh talks will not take place at all, as Kim pulled out of 2015 celebrations in Moscow for the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II at the last minute.