Tuesday 6 December 2022

The US, Mexico and Guatemala agree to prevent the passage of migrant caravans

The three governments justified the measure in the face of the coronavirus epidemic

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Q24N (Guatemala city) The governments of the United States, Mexico and Guatemala agreed on Friday to prohibit the passage of migrant caravans through their territory due to the pandemic, days after one from Honduras was forcibly dissolved at the Guatemala border with Honduras.

Honduran migrants who decided to return to their country walking through the town of El Florido, Guatemala, on January 19, 2021. AFP

“Regarding any intention to form a caravan, our message is clear: our border remains closed for those who try to enter illegally,” declared the United States Ambassador to Guatemala, William Popp.

“Migrants who cross the border of the United States in an irregular manner will be returned immediately as a matter of national health security,” he ruled.

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Popp issued the warning after meeting with the Guatemalan Foreign Minister, Pedro Brolo, and the Mexican ambassador to Guatemala, Romeo Ruiz, to address the matter.

Last Monday, Guatemalan police and soldiers repressed a caravan with thousands of Honduran migrants, including hundreds of children, who broke into the border since the Friday before without presenting documents or negative proof of COVID-19, demanded by the Guatamalan government.

The security forces acted under a decree from Guatamalan President Alejandro Giammattei, who ordered to halt their advance due to the risks of the pandemic, which has left 152,986 infections and 5,420 dead in Guatemala (as of January 22).

The action has been rejected by human rights organizations.

A member of the Mexican National Guard guarded the banks of the Suchiate River in Ciudad Hidalgo, Chiapas, on the border with Guatemala, on January 19, 2021. AFP

“We call on friendly countries to demonstrate with facts that any attempt to shape massive flows of people will not be tolerated and will be countered,” added Brolo.

On his side, the Mexican ambassador warned the migrants that the situation is “extremely more complicated” to mobilize due to the pandemic, which adds to the usual risks of the journey such as organized crime and human trafficking.

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“Please don’t leave your homes, don’t put your families in danger, don’t put your children at risk,” Ruiz pleaded.

Popp added that his country will work for “alternatives and economic opportunities for more prosperity” in Central America, from where thousands of undocumented migrants leave for the United States each year.

Since October 2018, illegal migration to the United States from northern Central America (Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador) took a turn with the departure of caravans of thousands of people, mainly from northern Honduras.

The members of this last caravan assured that they are fleeing poverty, violence and the crisis left by the passage of two hurricanes (Eta and Iota) in November and that they marched hopefully in a relaxation of migratory conditions with the arrival of Joe Biden to power in the United States .

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