Guatemala blocks passage of hundreds of US-bound Latin refugees
Guatemalan security forces have prevented passage through the Central American country of a US-bound caravan of hundreds of refugees from neighboring Honduras and Nicaragua, sparking a confrontation.
Some of the mostly young refugees with their children – escaping severe poverty, unemployment and corruption in their impoverished nations – started throwing objects at Guatemalan officers at the Izabel Border Crossing on Saturday and were pushed back with riot shields, according to a video shared by the US-allied Guatemalan authorities.
Earlier in the day, the refugees -- predominantly younger people carrying backpacks on their shoulders, accompanied with women and children -- left a bus terminal in the northern city of San Pedro Sula for the Honduran border post of Corinto, across from Izabel, Reuters reported Sunday, noting that some of them were pushing little kids in baby carriages.
"There is no work," said Pablo Mendez, a Honduran carrying his 2-year-old daughter in his arms. "That is why people are leaving in this caravan."
Reuters video footage showed large groups of hundreds of people walking across San Pedro Sula, with many crossing busy highways on foot. Another group had set off in the dark early in the morning.
Nicaraguan refugee Euclides Mendes said the size of the caravan gave him hope that the treacherous journey would be safe.
"It's true that we're going to walk a lot, but we're going, and the important thing is to get to the finish line," Mendes added.
Guatemalan authorities announced that nearly 100 people crossed into Guatemala at unauthorized border crossings, and later added that some 36 people have been returned to Honduras.
The caravan set off days before the January 27 inauguration in Honduras of President-elect Xiomara Castro, the country’s first left-wing and female president-to-be who has vowed to revive the economy and combat corruption that stokes waves of mass migration to the US.