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Grandmother with caravan: We've suffered

A grandmother of four from Honduras speaks to CNN's Leyla Santiago after arriving in Mexico with the migrant caravan making its way north from Central America.

Posted: Apr 9, 2018 6:39 AM
Updated: Apr 9, 2018 6:53 AM

They have traveled for days on foot and by bus. They are tired, hungry and desperate for a better life.

President Donald Trump described the roughly 1,100 Central American migrants traveling in a caravan through Mexico as dangerous. Many are women and children.

They've reached Puebla, a city southeast of Mexico City and more than 700 miles from Brownsville, Texas.

While many will stay south of the US border to find work, some 200 or so migrants plan to continue their journey into the United States.

Here are some of their stories:

'We are not bringing any guns'

Karen Gallo, 32, left Honduras with her two children and her husband. They've been on the road for 20 days, trying to make their way to the United States.

"There are no jobs, no justice, no laws in Honduras," Gallo said.

She and her relatives each carry a small backpack and a light jacket or sweater.

"We are not bringing any guns," she said. "As you can see, we are only carrying the basics."

'We've suffered'

On Friday afternoon, an influx of migrants arrived in Puebla by bus. Santos Isabel Hernandez, of Honduras, was among them.

Asked why she joined the caravan, Isabel Hernandez said, "To give my children a better future and because of the violence back home."

She was talking about her four grandchildren -- a 2-year-old asleep on her shoulder and three more sitting on the curb beneath the sun. They're making their way to the children's mother in San Francisco.

The journey, she said, had been difficult. "We've suffered on our way here," she said, her voice thick with emotion. "We've had to sleep outside. We haven't had food."

Asked about Trump and his allegations that the caravan is dangerous, Hernandez said: "I tell the President that we're leaving our country out of need and to escape the violence."

A mother who left her children behind

All Lilian Mejia has is a purple hoodie, a second pair of sneakers and an extra pair of clothes.

The 25-year-old couldn't get a job in El Salvador without a college degree and left her two sons, a 3-year-old and a 9-year-old, to look for work in the United States.

She is determined to get to Texas.

"I don't know how many days it would take us, but we are going to fight," she said. "We are going to fight, and we will get there."

As she traveled in the caravan, Mejia heard on the news that Trump was mad about the band of travelers.

"He's not poor, fighting for his family," she said. "This is what he doesn't understand."

'We are Americans'

Rafael Alvarez Martinez left Honduras alone to join the caravan.

Despite the challenges, the 65-year-old baker is traveling with newfound friends, though he's the only one he knows hoping to cross the border into the United States, where he wants to join his niece.

He condemned Trump's proposed border wall, which he compared to the Berlin Wall.

"Trump is discriminating against Americans," Alvarez Martinez told CNN on Thursday. "We are Americans: Hondurans, Nicaraguans, El Salvadorans, Mexicans, all of us."

Fleeing gang violence

Erasmo Aguirre worked as a bodyguard for a government official in El Salvador when the threats began.

"It's too violent in El Salvador," said the father of two boys, ages 5 and 9.

He had been in Chicago years ago but was deported to El Salvador. Now, he plans to stay in Tijuana, Mexico, where he says friends will help him find a job.

Escaping discrimination

Alessandra Lopez, Nikolle Contreras, Adriana Rodriguez and Michele Portio are transgender women who said they left Honduras for the US and Canada.

27-year-old Contreras told CNN she would face discrimination just going to buy shoes. The salesperson would tell her the shoes she was interested in were for women.

"Who do they think I am?" she asked.

"In Honduras, there's discrimination," Lopez, 26, added. "Being trans, we're discriminated in all ways." The pair are headed for Nashville, where a friend of theirs is living.

When she left, Lopez's mother understood, saying, "I'd rather you be across the world than next to me and in danger."

'My Bible goes with me'

There is deodorant, toilet paper and a pair of shoes inside Eric Sagastume's backpack. But the most valuable item he carries is his Bible.

"Wherever I'm going, my Bible goes with me," the 61-year-old from Guatemala said.

He walked for 11 days before taking a bus.

He was deported 13 years ago from the United States and doesn't want to risk that again. Instead, he says he is heading toward the popular beach town of Cabo San Lucas on Mexico's Baja California peninsula.

Sagastume says he loves speaking English and can use the skill to earn more money to support his family.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Eric Sagastume's country of origin.

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