Sun | Mar 7, 2021

Large migrant caravan dissolves

Published:Wednesday | January 20, 2021 | 12:13 AM
Honduran migrants raise white flags as they are blocked by Guatemalan soldiers and police from advancing towards the US border, on the highway in Vado Hondo, Guatemala, on Monday.
Honduran migrants raise white flags as they are blocked by Guatemalan soldiers and police from advancing towards the US border, on the highway in Vado Hondo, Guatemala, on Monday.

EL FLORIDO (AP):

A once-large caravan of Honduran migrants that pushed its way into Guatemala last week had dissipated by Tuesday in the face of Guatemalan security forces. Small groups pressed on towards the Mexican border, while others accepted rides from the authorities back to Honduras.

Many of the migrants were driven by an increasingly desperate situation in Honduras, where the economic ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic and two major hurricanes in November have piled atop chronic poverty and gang violence. That, combined with a hope that the new US administration of President-elect Joe Biden would be more welcoming, gave birth to the year’s first caravan

But on Tuesday, buses carrying dozens of migrants and police patrol vehicles carrying handfuls arrived sporadically through the morning at the Guatemala-Honduras border crossing of El Florido. They were passed from Guatemalan border agents to their Honduran counterparts and then boarded buses that would take them back to their home towns.

Some 25 miles into Guatemala, where hundreds of migrants had been stalled at a roadblock in Vado Hondo for several days, traffic flowed smoothly on Tuesday and few migrants remained. Guatemala’s immigration authorities reported that through to Monday more than 2,300 migrants had been returned to Honduras.

US BORDER POLICIES

If Guatemala’s government had indeed dissolved the year’s first caravan, it would be a relief to the incoming US administration. Biden has promised immigration reform, but for now plans to leave Trump-era border policies in place, fearing a surge of migrants when he takes office.

Guatemala’s government had made clear it would stop the caravan for immigration and health reasons before it had even formed in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, last week. President Alejandro Giammattei said 2,000 police and soldiers would be sent to the border.

Those forces did not stop the caravan at the border, but a series of strategically placed roadblocks, where forces deployed tear gas and batons, dispersed the mass of people.