EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The Mexican government is accusing a caravan leader of using “lies and manipulation” and putting at risk the lives of more than 1,000 migrants marching to the U.S. border.

“The lies and actions of Irineo Mujica, the self-proclaimed leader of the migrant caravan, place in jeopardy the health, physical and psychological well-being of the persons that are still part of this group,” the INM said in a statement Monday. “(Mujica) has generated animosity against government officials who have been turned back and even attacked with sticks and stones when they tried to render aid.”

Mujica in late October set out from Tapachula, Chiapas, with 4,000 migrants who rammed through a National Guard roadblock in the outskirts of the city. He said Tapachula, a city near the border with Guatemala, had become an open-air prison for migrants. He is also threatening to assemble a second, larger caravan in the nearby state of Veracruz on Thursday. Both caravans would be heading for Arizona, he said.

The statement from INM and ongoing National Guard roadblocks to prevent the Central American and Haitian migrants from hitching rides to the U.S. border come days before the presidents of Mexico, the United States and the prime minister of Canada meet in Washington, D.C., on Thursday to address immigration and other issues.

Experts in U.S.-Mexico relations say the caravans threaten to become a major distraction to the Biden administration as it fights for support on domestic issues and tries to convince the American public that there is no immigration crisis at the border.

They also say the narrow Isthmus region of Mexico that the caravan is quickly approaching has been the place where Mexican authorities have dispersed previous marches to the U.S. The INM said it has given humanitarian visas to 1,479 migrants who have agreed to drop out of the caravan and remain in Southern Mexico. Mexican news outlets say an equal number of migrants already may have hitched rides to the border along the way.

On Tuesday, about 1,000 people remained with Mujica in Matias Romero, Oaxaca.

“They are desperate. They cannot stop this caravan, so now they’re attacking me,” Mujica told La Jornada. “I am being attacked as if I were the worst of criminals. There is no respect for the work of (migrant) advocates.”

Mujica, a Mexican-American activist for the nonprofit Pueblo Sin Fronteras, said the caravan would arrive in Veracruz on Wednesday.