About 8,000 people began to leave Honduras early Friday, fleeing violence, poverty and recent natural disasters.
Thousands of Hondurans are crossing Guatemala on foot in hopes of reaching the United States, authorities said on Saturday, as they fled violence and economic hardship made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic and recent storms murderous.
Guatemala’s immigration authorities said on Saturday that between 7,000 and 8,000 migrants and asylum seekers had entered the country since Friday and were headed for Mexico.
“We have nothing to feed for our children and thousands of us have slept on the streets,” said Maria Jesus Paz, mother of four, who said she lost her home to back-to-back hurricanes that hit Central America in November. , told Reuters news agency.
“This is why we are making this decision, even though we know the trip could cost us our lives,” she added.
The year’s first migrant caravan aims to reach the United States, where many hope President-elect Joe Biden will be more welcoming to asylum seekers than President Donald Trump, who has overseen an immigration crackdown .
Biden, who takes office on Wednesday, has promised “A fair and humane immigration system”.
But Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras have an agreement with the United States to stop migratory flows to the north, and Mexican and Central American authorities have coordinated public health and safety measures aimed at deterring unauthorized mass migration. In the region.
On January 8, the Acting Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) of the United States, Mark Morgan, warned people against participating in the trailer. “Don’t waste your time and money, and don’t risk your safety and health,” Morgan said in a statement.
“Migrant caravan groups will not be allowed to move north in violation of the sovereignty, public health orders and immigration laws of respective countries in the region,” he said.
Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico have deployed thousands of troops and riot police aimed at blocking the passage of migrants.
The Guatemalan military arrested hundreds of people on Friday, including many families with young children.
Nevertheless, the caravan has grown considerably since its departure on Friday morning.
Eduaro Lanza, 28, told AFP news agency that he dreamed of living in a country where people of different sexual orientations can live with dignity, “respect … and a job opportunity”.
Another member of the caravan, Norma Pineda, 51, told the news agency that she has been living on the streets since the hurricanes.
“We are leaving because there is no work, no state support. We need food, clothes, ”she says.
In a statement on Friday, the International Committee of the Red Cross said: “The combination of COVID-19, social exclusion, violence and climate-related disasters occurring at the same time on a scale rarely seen previously in Central America raises new challenges. “