Bartolo Fuentes, a former politician and passionate immigrant-rights activist is finally gaining attention for his involvement in the migrant caravan headed toward the border. He is known by the Honduran government as a "coyote," or human trafficker who has lead the migrant caravan to the United States for his own political reasons.
Fuentes learned of the small groups throughout the Honduras planning on migrating north about a month ago, and that's when he decided to organize much larger groups of people.
As the caravan organization continued throughout the month, reporters on cable news wrongly claimed that Fuentes would pay for every migrants' food and transportation costs. And word traveled fast.
“After that news program I started to get hundreds of calls, then it took on a life of its own,” Fuentes said. “In Honduras, the government wants to minimize why people are leaving—they know they are going to leave and they want to say they are doing so because of lies and the opposition, not the conditions that they created. This is in line with what the United States is saying—that there are false promises being made. And this pro-government news program played into that messaging, trying to say that there is financing when really people just need to get out.”
After the news, caravan numbers quickly grew to thousands of migrants. Hondurans from all across the country headed toward the caravan, and prepared to begin their long journey.
Some Honduran government officials are now requesting an increase in social welfare to fight the migration. But the money previously sent to the cause seems to show no effect on helping the poor.
“Traveling in a group is cheaper and it’s safer,” Yareli Guillen, a 19-year-old who is now on her second attempt to migrate, said. “I see that people are stopped at the borders, that there are people coming back, but this is my opportunity."
Fuentes said that now he's just worried about his own security, stating that this migrant caravan is a “battle between the government and the ones who want to fight."
Read the full story on the Daily Beast.