Guatemala cracks down on migrant caravan bound for US

WION Web Team
Gautemala City, Gautemala Published: Jan 17, 2021, 01.08 PM(IST)

Honduran migrants Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Over 8,000 migrants have entered Guatemala since Friday, according to the immigration authority, seeking to escape poverty, unemployment, gang and drug violence and the aftermath of two devastating hurricanes in November.

Guatemalan authorities have reportedly escalated efforts to stop the thousands of Hondurans, travelling in a migrant caravan bound for the United States.

Over 8,000 migrants have entered Guatemala since Friday, according to the immigration authority, seeking to escape poverty, unemployment, gang and drug violence and the aftermath of two devastating hurricanes in November.

Several videos showed Guatemalan security forces clashing with a group of hundreds of migrants who managed to break through a police blockade at the village of Vado Hondo, near Chiquimula in eastern Guatemala.

Between Friday and Saturday, Guatemala had sent back almost 1,000 migrants entering from Honduras, the government said, as the caravan moved towards Mexico.

The caravan is likely to come under more pressure in Mexico. 

Mexico's migration accord with the United States still holds, so the caravan would be dispersed. Also, on Saturday evening, the Mexican foreign ministry pressed local authorities to halt the caravan's progress, pointing to the need to contain the spread of COVID-19.

In a statement, the ministry praised the Guatemalan government for acting in a "firm and responsible" manner toward migrants that had "violated (Guatemala's) sovereignty" and urged Honduras to prevent further movements of people.

Mexican and Central American authorities have coordinated security and public health measures in a bid to deter mass movements of people across the region, deploying thousands of security forces.

Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico deployed thousands of soldiers and riot police aimed at blocking the migrants' passage. But the caravan has grown considerably over the last 24 hours, with members citing a spiraling crisis of hunger and homelessness in Honduras as their reasons for joining.

The first migrant caravan of the year comes less than a week before US President-elect Joe Biden takes office. He has promised a more humane approach to migration, in contrast to outgoing President Donald Trump's hardline policies.

Biden has promised "a fair and humane immigration system" and pledged aid to tackle the root causes of poverty and violence that drive Central Americans to the United States.

(with inputs)

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