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Central American migrants moving in a caravan to the U.S. board buses. Photo: Ulises Ruiz/AFP via Getty Images

Central American migrants have newfound empowerment to organize and flee their home countries in large groups, with instant communication to guide their long journeys.

Why it matters: Those caravans provide the protection of numbers and eliminate many of the dangers and costs associated with hiring smugglers.

  • And they've become a popular and strategically orchestrated method of migration for Central Americans in search of safety or a better life in the U.S. — a phenomenon spurred by social media, the AP reports.

Between the lines: The "caravans" began primarily as protests a few years ago. Very few members of the original caravans actually made it to the U.S. border.

  • But last fall — amid the Trump administration's ongoing immigration crackdown — hundreds of Central Americans actually arrived at the U.S. border.
  • Ever since, smaller "caravans" have been setting off from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
  • Social media is the engine: They are often advertised on Facebook and organized through WhatsApp group chats, the AP reports, where migrants make plans, give advice and communicate with loved ones. It's unclear who — if ever the same people — head up the operation.

A look inside a caravan WhatsApp chat, as reported by the AP:

  • "Group, in Mexico can you find someone to take you to the other side?"
  • "What papers do I need for my kids?"
  • "Remember that in Mexico there are a lot of kidnappings.”
  • "This dude works with the Zetas, a friend of mine from Olancho told me he knows him and that he’s still with them." Sent with a photo of an alleged criminal.
  • "There are no coordinators, that’s what people have to say so there aren’t problems."
  • "Another is leaving April 30, Salvadoran friends."

The bottom line: Social media continues to transform our world — mobilizing anti-government uprisings, a new brand of celebrity, fake news and even effective, new methods of mass migration.

Go deeper

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
3 hours ago - Sports

European soccer is at war

Liverpool celebrating its 2019 Champions League victory. Photo: Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Europe's biggest soccer clubs have established The Super League, a new midweek tournament that would compete with — and threaten the very existence of — the Champions League.

Why it matters: This new league, set to start in 2023, "would bring about the most significant restructuring of elite European soccer since the 1950s, and could herald the largest transfer of wealth to a small set of teams in modern sports history," writes NYT's Tariq Panja.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

2021's expected earnings blowout begins

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. Photo: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

First-quarter earnings so far have been very strong, outpacing even the rosy expectations from Wall Street and that's a trend that's expected to continue for all of 2021. S&P 500 companies are on pace for one of the best quarters of positive earnings surprises on record, according to FactSet.

Why it matters: The results show that not only has the earnings recession ended for U.S. companies, but firms are performing better than expected and the economy may be justifying all the hype.

3 hours ago - Science

NASA's Mars helicopter takes flight as first aircraft piloted on another planet

Ingenuity on the surface of Mars, filmed by NASA's Perseverance rover. Photo: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA successfully piloted the Ingenuity Mars helicopter for its first experimental flight on Monday, briefly hovering the aircraft as NASA's Perseverance rover collected data.

Why it matters: Ingenuity's short flight marks the first time a human-built aircraft has flown on a world other than Earth, opening the door to new means of exploring planets far from our own.