TAPANATEPEC, Mexico — Thousands of Central American migrants took a break Sunday on their journey through southern Mexico, but vowed to press ahead toward the U.S. border roughly 1,000 miles away, as Mexican agencies wavered between helping and hindering.

Some rested in the shade of tarps strung across the town plaza, or picked up trash. Others went to soak themselves in the nearby Novillero River.

The tensions of a long trek through searing heat with tenuous supplies of food and other goods spilled over Saturday night when a dispute over a food line escalated into the beating of a man falsely accused of child stealing.

Raul Medina Melendez, security chief for the tiny municipality of Tapanatepec in Oaxaca state said the town was distributing sandwiches and water to migrants camped in the central square Saturday night. When a man with a megaphone asked people to wait their turn, some men hurled insults at him. “Finally people got really angry and those below began to attack the guy,” Medina said.

As the man ran, a false rumor spread that he had grabbed a child for protection and he was caught and beaten. Police rescued him and took him to a hospital for treatment, though his condition wasn’t immediately clear.

On Sunday, several in the caravan took to microphones to denounce the attack.

“Is that the way we’re going to always behave?” a woman from Honduras asked. “Anytime there’s a rumor everyone is going to run to beat up someone?”

Others complained that images of litter and uneaten food made them appear disrespectful.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.