Hundreds of US-bound migrants in caravan stranded at Guatemalan border

Hundreds of Hondurans and Nicaraguans reached the Guatemalan border on Saturday but were blocked from crossing by Guatemalan security forces, the first US-bound migrant caravan to be formed in Central America this year. Some migrants at the Izabel border crossing in Guatemala threw objects at Guatemalan security forces, who pushed them back with riot shields, according to a video shared by Guatemalan authorities.

The caravan left a few days before left-wing President-elect Xiomara Castro took office in Honduras on January 27. She pledged to revive the economy and fight the corruption that fuels waves of mass migration to the United States. Earlier in the day, the migrants, mostly young people carrying backpacks over their shoulders and women with children, left a bus station in the northern town of San Pedro Sula for the Honduran border crossing of Corinto, in front of Isabel. Some pushed children in strollers.

“There is no work,” said Pablo Mendez, a Honduran carrying his 2-year-old daughter in his arms. “That’s why people leave in this trailer.” Reuters video footage showed large groups of hundreds of people crossing San Pedro Sula, many of whom were crossing busy highways on foot. Another group had left in the dark early in the morning.

Guatemalan authorities said around 100 people had entered Guatemala through unauthorized border crossings, and later added that some 36 people had been returned to Honduras. Previously, the Honduran police had set up roadblocks to prevent many such caravans from reaching the border post. Guatemalan security forces have also clashed with groups of migrants when they tried to make their way without papers.

The first caravan of the year comes after deep economic hardship and poverty hitting 62% of the Honduran population, aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic and two consecutive hurricanes in 2020 that hampered the economy. In Nicaragua, political repression by the government of President Daniel Ortega before and after the November 7 presidential elections has led to an increase in migration.

Euclides Mendes, a Nicaraguan migrant, said the size of the caravan gave him hope the perilous journey would be safe. “It’s true that we’re going to walk a lot, but we’re going, and the important thing is to get to the finish line,” added Mendes. (Additional reporting by Sofia Menchu ​​Writing by Drazen Jorgic Editing by Marguerita Choy and Jonathan Oatis)

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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