Guatemalan forces disperse migrant caravan on highway

Guatemala City, Jan 18 (efe-epa).- Guatemalan security forces on Monday dispersed a migrant caravan made up of more than 6,000 Hondurans looking to head northwards to the United States.

EFE learned that some 500 National Civil Police officers and Guatemalan army soldiers ousted the Honduran migrants from along the eastern Guatemalan highway where they had remained stranded since the weekend after Guatemalan authorities refused to allow them to proceed.

The security forces first gave the migrants 10 minutes to clear the roadway, then they began pushing them off, after which the migrants dispersed in different directions.

Some of the migrants reportedly were slightly injured in the confrontation, but Guatemalan authorities have not yet released information regarding their condition.

The Guatemalan Immigration Institute had told journalists at 9:20 am local time Monday that the caravan “remains concentrated” on a highway in Chiquimula province, some 200 kilometers (125 miles) east of Guatemala City and a few kilometers from the border with Honduras.

Earlier in the morning, EFE reported that the contingents of National Civil Police and Guatemalan army troops deployed at the site had been increased, with those forces having prevented the caravan from moving forward since Saturday.

The Hondurans were part of a migrant caravan of more than 9,000 people, according to official calculations, having departed from San Pedro Sula, in northern Honduras, in several phases last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

The group that was stranded along the highway included about 6,000 migrants, while some of the other 3,000 Hondurans in the caravan had managed to move forward and others had been dispersing or had started back to their homes.

The members of the caravan lined up illegally on Friday night and Saturday morning at the El Florida border crossing post, in Chiquimula province and just 20 km from where the larger group finds itself detained.

The migrants were aiming to get to the US seeking better living conditions, far from the poverty and violence besetting the Central American region, especially since the coronavirus pandemic hit and Hurricanes Eta and Iota blasted the area last November.

The Guatemalan Immigration Institute also said that vehicle traffic in the area had been “halted” because of the presence of the migrants along the roadway.

The great majority of the Hondurans are refusing to backtrack even after on Sunday morning the Guatemalan army and police forcefully prevented them from moving forward.

Guatemalan authorities will not let the migrants continue their journey unless they test negative for Covid-19, according to the Guatemalan Immigration Institute.

According to official sources, almost 1,600 Hondurans have been returned to their country by Guatemalan authorities over the past four days.


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