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  • Tens of thousands of bikers left Guatemala City Saturday for their 225-km pilgrimage to Esquipulas and will return Sunday.

    Tens of thousands of bikers left Guatemala City Saturday for their 225-km pilgrimage to Esquipulas and will return Sunday. | Photo: AFP

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Each year, thousands of leather-clad bikers take off on an annual pilgrimage to pay homage to the Black Christ of Esquipulas.

Some 50,000 motorcyclists rumbled through the streets of Guatemala City this weekend as part of their annual two-day pilgrimage to the border, while this year they are making a special plea for peace in Guatemala.

The majority of the bikers, also known as the Caravana del Zorro (the Caravan of Foxes), took off from Guatemala City's center Saturday and traveled to the town of Esquipulas near the borders of Honduras and El Salvador. Scores others met up with the caravan along the way.

The 225-kilometer journey is part of an annual pilgrimage by the bikers to visit the Black Christ of Esquipulas, a particular image of Jesus crucified on the cross that is revered by thousands of Christians in Central America.

This year, the caravan will make a special request to the spiritual figure for peace in Guatemala—one of the most violent regions of the world, and where almost 53 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, according to Guatemala's Ministry of Social Development.

“We will ask for peace, progress and employment (for Guatemala) to the Lord of Esquipulas,” said Edy Villa de Leon, also known as the "Grand Zorro," before heading off Saturday morning. Villa de Leon is also the son of the founder of the annual caravan tradition, which began 55 years ago.

Guatemalan's President Jimmy Morales also spoke before the caravan departed from Guatemala City, saying the thousands of motorcyclists showed that “when there is national unity, you can do amazing things.”

The Caravana del Zorro pilgrimage takes place every year on the first weekend of February. The bikers come from all over the Americas, including Central America, Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, and even the United States, according to local media.

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