Guatemalan police dismantle caravan headed for United States

Yesterday, Karen wrote about the latest migrant caravan which had come from Honduras and broken through the border with Guatemala. Here’s one of the showdowns between the caravan and Guatemalan police:

Monday, the Associated Press reported there was a standoff.

A steep mountain and tall wall flanking the rural highway have allowed Guatemalan authorities to bottle up the group that had numbered about 2,000 when it pushed into Guatemala Friday night.

Their ranks have reduced through attrition as some migrants have agreed to be bused back to the Honduran border. A Guatemalan official repeated that offer Monday morning, telling the migrants they had buses at the ready for those who wanted to return to Honduras. A smaller number have been forcefully sent back after scuffling with authorities who held their line with baton strikes and tear gas.

A breakaway group of nearly 1,000 made it farther up the road but they are also blocked now. Video of the standoff shows that earlier today some trucks became involved:

But eventually police were able to clear the road and reopen it to traffic.

It’s still not clear how many of the migrants have returned home and how many are just waiting for another opportunity. These caravans originally began as a way to protect people from kidnapping and violence along the road but at this point it seems the caravans attract so much attention that they are unable to get through, at least as a group. I wonder if this tactic will decline as people decide it doesn’t work.

Meanwhile, Guatemala’s foreign affairs secretary blamed a complete lack of action by Honduras for allowing this caravan to get as far as it did. Instead of holding them back the Honduran security forces allegedly gave them an escort:

Pedro Brolo Vila, Guatemala‘s foreign affairs secretary, criticized Honduras’ government Monday for not doing more to dissuade the caravan. He said Guatemala had been preparing since December for this caravan, including meetings with their counterparts in Honduras, Mexico and the United States.

Guatemala was “totally surprised” by Honduras’ lack of cooperation, Brolo said. He said Honduras had promised to put out a large contingent of security forces to dissuade the migrants from reaching Guatemala’s border. Instead, Honduran security forces accompanied the migrants “toward our borders where regrettably we saw how they entered violently, violating Guatemala’s territorial sovereignty.”

Some migrants will get through but they still have to cross the southern border of Mexico and they have been building security there in expectation of this:

The only thing that’s certain about all of this is why it’s happening now. The situation in Honduras has been bad for a while but the Biden administration has promised a new path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and and end to Trump’s remain in Mexico police. That sign of a softer approach, one which could once again allow people making asylum claims to be released into the country, is convincing people who were holding off that now is the time to go. Unless Biden changes his tune, they are going to keep coming.

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