Jan 17, 2021 09:07 UTC
  • Guatemalan officials crack down on US-bound Honduran caravan

Guatemalan authorities have cracked down on a caravan of Latin American asylum seekers headed to the United States just as a new administration is about to enter the White House.

Guatemalan authorities on Saturday escalated efforts to stop thousands of Hondurans, fleeing poverty and violence, and arrested some of them.

Videos seen by Reuters showed Guatemalan security forces clashing with the asylum seekers who managed to break through a police blockade in the village of Vado Hondo, near Chiquimula in eastern Guatemala.

“A small group got through and the rest were detained. The people who got past have been located,” said Alejandra Mena, a spokeswoman for Guatemala’s immigration agency.

As many as 9,000 Honduran asylum seekers, some of them families with children, had entered the country since Friday.

Guatemala has not said how many asylum seekers were detained on Saturday as the caravan moved towards Mexico. The caravan will also likely face new obstacles set up by security forces in Mexico.

A Mexican official warned that the country’s migration accord with the United States still holds, so the caravan would be dispersed. 

On Saturday evening, the Mexican Foreign Ministry pressed local authorities to stop the caravan, stressing the need to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, the ministry praised the Guatemalan government for acting in a “firm and responsible” manner toward the asylum seekers.

The statement urged Honduran security forces to stop more asylum seekers from escaping the country, which has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic and back-to-back hurricanes.