JOCOTAN | At least 6,000 Honduran migrants were advancing in Guatemala on Saturday after they managed to force a police cordon at the border, now heading for Mexico, with the hope of entering the United States despite the restrictions.
• Read also: [PHOTOS] 4,500 Hondurans on their way to try to reach the United States
Crowds on foot from Honduras managed to enter on Friday evening through the El Florido border post, 220 kilometers east of the capital Guatemala. The officers did not carry guns, in order to avoid the showdown, as the group included many families with minors, said a police officer.
The human caravan had left at dawn on Friday from the town of San Pedro Sula, 180 km north of Tegucigalpa, in the hope of entering the United States and finding a better life there.
A group of around 6,000 people, according to figures from the Guatemalan Migration Institute, then headed for El Florido.
To cross the border, the Guatemalan authorities require migrants to present valid papers and a negative coronavirus PCR test. Although many do not meet these conditions, the migrants have managed to enter without violence.
After taking a little rest, they continued their journey in small groups within the Guatemalan territory. Some were already in Jocotan, in the department of Chiquimula (south-east), 55 km from the border with Honduras, AFP noted.
Some have received assistance from the Red Cross and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
After traveling 450 km inside Guatemala, most of the caravan will attempt to enter Mexico through the Tecun Uman border post (southwest), according to details provided by migration authorities.
“I decided to go to the United States, because in my country, there is nothing, no work,” Carlos Flores, a 20-year-old Honduran told AFP.
The economic situation of many inhabitants of the small Central American country (9 million inhabitants), subjected to the violence of gangs and drug traffickers, deteriorated further with the passage of two powerful hurricanes in November and the consequences of the pandemic.
“We have no work or food, so I decided to go to the United States,” said Dania Hinestrosa, 23, at the border crossing with one of her daughters. The young woman who worked as a domestic worker left behind another three-year-old and four-year-old twins.
“We are leaving heartbroken. Me, I leave my family, my husband and my three children, “laments Jessenia Ramirez, 36, hoping that President Joe Biden, who will be invested on Wednesday, leaves her” a chance “in the United States.
Migrants march in columns along the roads, backpack, and most with their faces masked to protect themselves from COVID-19. Some climb onto trucks to move faster.
Many want to believe Joe Biden will ease US migration policy, even though Washington has already warned them.
“Don’t waste your time and money and risk your safety and health,” Acting US Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark A. Morgan said Thursday.
Outgoing President Donald Trump on Friday declared a state of emergency on the border with Mexico, a measure first taken in February 2019.
“New measures must be taken in order to face the humanitarian situation and to be able to control immigration, as well as the flow of drugs and delinquents,” said the White House.
The Mexican government warned him that it “would not allow the illegal entry (into its territory) of migrant caravans”. Some 500 police officers have been dispatched to the border with Guatemala.
More than a dozen migrant caravans have left Honduras since October 2018, but all have clashed with thousands of US border guards and military personnel positioned on the southern border with Mexico.