By Esteban Biba and Juan Manuel Blanco
Chiquimula, Guatemala/Tapachula, Mexico, Jan 16 (EFE).- A caravan made up of more than 9,000 Honduran migrants was crossing western Guatemala and heading towards Mexico on Saturday after overcoming several official blockades.
The caravan, divided into three groups of approximately 3,000 people each and whose destination is the United States, crossed illegally between Friday night and Saturday through the El Florido border post, located 200 kilometers west of Guatemala City, despite the fact that initially security forces had blocked their way.
“The hurricane (Eta) threw away our houses. And we cannot work because there is a war tax from the ‘maras’ (gangs) for businesses,” said one of the migrants walking in the caravan, David González, 32.
Originally from the city of Santa Rosa de Copán, González said that, after losing his home, he has lived under a bridge.
“The government says that we are not alone, but the truth is we are alone. They have not done anything to solve anything,” he said.
The 9,000 people are part of a migrant caravan organized in Honduras that left San Pedro Sula in different phases over Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Hondurans seek to reach the US for better living conditions, away from the poverty and violence that plague the isthmus, especially after the pandemic and hurricanes Eta and Iota in November.
The caravan is currently advancing on the department of Chiquimula en route to Mexico.
Guatemalan immigration authorities reported that their personnel currently “accompany” the caravan through Chiquimula “to avoid incidents on the road.”
Olga, another migrant in the caravan and who prefers not to divulge her last name, is confident that she will arrive in the US and have a better future to feed the four minors accompanying her.
“If we leave the country we risk anything happening to us, but if we succeed, we arrive in the United States and they give us political asylum, we will be able to work and support our families,” Olga said.
“As you see, I have four children. So I don’t have the possibility to give them studies. I was a street vendor but they took us out of the terminal where I worked because they privatized it. And they threw us out like dogs, like garbage, as if we were worth nothing in that country,” added the Honduran.
Meanwhile, Mexico was getting ready to receive the first wave of 2021 with a reinforcement of border security.
Since Friday, hundreds of National Guard, Army and Navy personnel have joined the 500 immigration agents that the government deployed in the south of the country.
The members of the National Guard traveled in convoy to the Rodolfo Robles international bridge, the main legal route in southern Mexico for migrants, while other groups went to the banks of the Suchiate River with anti-riot teams to face migrants who try to cross into Mexico illegally. The military elements will remain for several days for strict surveillance in the main informal passages along the Suchiate River that divides Mexico and Guatemala.
The brigadier general and coordinator of the south of the National Guard, Vicente Antonio Hernández Sánchez, said the deployment of elements to reinforce security on the southern border is the position of the Mexican government.
He said the objective is to safeguard the integrity of the migrants, which is why there are also representatives of the Ministry of Health (SSa) because, given the coronavirus pandemic, this has become a priority. That is why, he added, that anyone who enters Mexico must be reviewed by the SSa, while their immigration status falls under the National Migration Law, although he stressed that attention will be given “always respecting their human rights,” especially those of minors.
He said that the security in the border area is so migrants can enter in a regulated manner and they will be provided with health services, food, accommodation and, mainly, work.
The first caravan of this type left in 2018 from Honduras and since then several migrant groups have tried to repeat the journey together with thousands of compatriots, although in many cases without success. EFE