A Large Migrant Caravan Is Dissolved in Guatemala
Guatemalan authorities sent more than 2,300 migrants back to Honduras on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, a large caravan of Honduran migrants that made their way into Guatemala last week was dissolved by Guatemalan security forces. Small groups went on to the Mexican border while others accepted rides from authorities back to Honduras. More than 2,300 migrants were returned.
Many of the migrants left the country due to the economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the aftermath of two major hurricanes in November, along with ongoing threats of poverty and gang violence. With the new administration of President Joe Biden taking over, many have gained hope, which led to this year's first caravan.
Carlos Hernández, a 29-year-old shoemaker from Honduras, spoke to the Associated Press about his decision to leave and the difficulties he'll face when he returns. "I lost everything, children, house, everything," Hernández said. "Everyone died there, I don't have anything. Who am I going to return to?"
Guatemala's government had made clear that it would stop the caravan for immigration and health reasons before it had even formed in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei said 2,000 police and soldiers would be sent to the border.
Those forces did not stop the caravan at the border; instead, a series of strategically placed roadblocks where forces deployed tear gas and batons dissolved the mass of people.
Michael Kozak, acting assistant secretary for the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, commended Guatemala's response on Twitter, saying that stopping the caravan was "critical" for the region's COVID-19 response.
Central American migrants began forming the caravans as a low-cost alternative to hiring smugglers, because they gain a degree of safety in numbers. However, the U.S. government has led an effort to organize a more aggressive response from countries along the way to try to keep them from going further.
During a recent interview with Univision's Ilia Calderón, Vice President Kamala Harris shared the incoming administration's plan for helping immigrants. Among other things, they want to decrease the wait time for obtaining citizenship, grant automatic green cards to protected undocumented immigrants, and add immigration judges to decrease court hearing backlogs.