Guatemala tries blocking caravan of 9000 Honduran migrants

Honduras Migrants

Honduras Migrants

Guatemalan authorities on Saturday escalated efforts to stop thousands of Hondurans, many of them families with children, traveling in a migrant caravan bound for the United States just as a new administration is about to enter the White House. On Saturday, the estimated 5,000 to 6,000 migrants were confronting that nation's police forces at various roadblocks, despite the arrest and deportation back to Honduras of hundreds of people.

Between 7,000 and 8,000 migrants have entered Guatemala since Friday, according to Guatemala's immigration authority, and they are heading toward the Mexican border, where Mexican authorities have deployed troops and riot police.

Hundreds of migrants hoping to reach the United States border gathered outside a bus station in this Honduran city Thursday despite continued signs from Mexico and other Central American governments that they would not be allowed through.

Mainor Garcia, a 19-year-old labourer from San Pedro Sula, carried a purple knapsack as he walked along the highway early Friday.

Amidst the pandemic, the migrants waited and then resumed walking.

Ramirez said they left Honduras because staying meant running the risk of only eating every other day.

The banana plantation worker said his home was destroyed in November's hurricanes, and that he's fleeing north hoping to earn enough to send money back to support his mother and his young daughter.

'There's no choice, ' Oscar Zaldivar, 25, said about leaving his country.

"They threw us out like we were dogs, like garbage, as if we were worthless to the country", Ramirez said, drying her tears as she walked along the side of the road.

Santos Demetrio Pineda was one of hundreds who showed up with little more than the clothes on their backs for the long, unlikely journey, made that much harder by the coronavirus pandemic. "We can't just sit around after what happened to us".

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The US commitment to the "rule of law and public health" is not affected by the change in administration, he said in a statement. He lashed out at those he said take advantage of immigrants and make a living from illegal immigration.

Francisco Garduño Yáñez, head of Mexico's National Immigration Institute, said in a statement yesterday that his country has "to guarantee our national territory" and called for "an orderly, safe and legal migration with respect for human rights and with humanitarian policies".

For weeks, a call for a new caravan departing January 15 had circulated on social networks.

Mexico's migration agreement with the United States is still in place, meaning the caravan would be dispersed, a Mexican official said.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said in a statement Friday that "The combination of COVID-19, social exclusion, violence and climate-related disasters that occur at the same time with a magnitude seldom seen before in Central America raises new humanitarian challenges".

Trump said Friday he was extending a national emergency on the border with Mexico, a measure he first imposed in February 2019.

The group "expressed concern over the exposure of irregular migrants to situations of high risk to their health and their lives, primarily during the health emergency".

A caravan of Honduran migrants is approaching the US border ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration, creating the first major test of Biden's plan to reverse many of Donald Trump's immigration policies.

Guatemalan authorities estimated today that as many as 9,000 Honduran migrants had crossed into Guatemala as part of an effort to form a new caravan to reach the USA border.

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