I've been saying for the last few days that the caravan started off as a few hundred Hondurans but that number then increased in number somewhat spontaneously. It turns out that characterization was only half right.
Jeff Ernst and Sarah Kinosian get to the bottom of the story in Forget Trump Hysteria, Here’s How the Migrant Caravan ‘Crisis’ Really Began
ABOUT A MONTH AGO, when [Bartolo] Fuentes first became aware of small groups dispersed throughout Honduras that were organizing among themselves to make the trek north, he decided to help out, just as he had done with a previous migrant caravan last April—and indeed throughout his life.
At the time, all the groups combined numbered no more than 200 people, Fuentes says. As someone who had helped repatriate the bodies of many migrants who died in the journey al Norte, he was acutely aware of the dangers and wanted to help ensure the people’s safety.
“No one expected this human avalanche,” he told The Daily Beast in a phone call from the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa.
But then a report on the country’s most-watched cable news channel, HCH, painted a picture of the caravan that changed everything. The anchors interviewed a woman who was supposedly part of the caravan. The woman talked about safety in numbers, called Fuentes the organizer and mentioned foreign assistance. The anchors, without any supporting evidence, then said that Fuentes would pay for the migrants’ food and transportation.
Fuentes was later interviewed by the anchors and strongly refuted what was said, but by then the damage was done.
So there is a mix of opportunity and false rumor. Many of those traveling north intended to do so anyway, even though perhaps they weren't planning on going at this moment. However, traveling with a large group of people was safer and cheaper than it they traveled on their own within the coming months. The HCH story also seems to have convinced many people that added benefits would be available for those heading north (foreign assistance).
None of this takes away from the fact that there is a humanitarian crisis in Honduras, and in much of Central America. There is also now a looming humanitarian crisis in Mexico with several thousand Honduran nationals relying upon the generosity of the Mexican people, following that of the Guatemalan people, to provide shelter, food, and water. The primary concern right now should be to address the needs of those in danger, not where they came from or where they are going or why.