Mon, 08 Mar 2021

Guatemalan Forces Clear Sit-In of Honduran Migrants

Voice of America
19 Jan 2021, 10:35 GMT+10

Guatemalan forces used tear gas and batons Monday to break up a group of Honduran migrants near the border who were hoping to travel to the United States.

Roughly 2,000 migrants had camped out at a roadblock on the two-lane highway to Chiquimula near the village of Vado Hondo for nearly two days. Some threw stones at Guatemalan forces that were attempting to disperse the crowd, prompting them to use tear gas and batons.

Guatemalan authorities reported that the road was once again open to traffic Monday, but most migrants remained on Guatemalan soil.

Some Hondurans have reportedly agreed to be bused back across the border, diminishing the group of nearly 8,000 attempting to travel to the United States.

Honduran migrants react while accompanied by a police officer after Guatemalan security forces cleared a road where the... Honduran migrants react while accompanied by a police officer after Guatemalan security forces cleared a road where the migrants have been camping after authorities halted their trek to the United States, in Vado Hondo, Guatemala, Jan. 18, 2021.

Migrants say they are fleeing lawlessness and poverty, as the COVID-19 pandemic and two hurricanes in November ravished the already impoverished country.

Monday's clash follows an unsuccessful push by about 100 migrants to break through the roadblock on Sunday.

Many migrants showed visible injuries from batons after the clash with Guatemalan troops.

Some migrants say they hope the Biden administration will be more sympathetic than the Trump administration to their pleas for a better life.

Speaking to Reuters news agency, a Biden transition official discouraged migrants from continuing their journey to the United States.

"Overcoming the challenges created by the chaotic and cruel policies of the last four years, and those presented by COVID-19, will take time," the official said, adding that "the journey to the United States remains extraordinarily dangerous, and those in the region should not believe anyone peddling the lie that our border will be open to everyone next month."

Traveling on foot, the migrants say they are willing to brave a journey of thousands of kilometers through Guatemala and Mexico to reach the U.S., escaping poverty, unemployment, gang and drug violence, and natural disasters in their country.

Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico have said they are collectively taking security and public health measures because of the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent unauthorized border crossings.

Last month, Honduran authorities stopped a caravan before it reached the Guatemalan border. Last year, other caravans were broken up by Guatemala's authorities before reaching Mexico.

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