Some 300 Hondurans left this Thursday for the United States, anticipating a massive caravan of migrants called for Friday, in search of better living conditions and with the hope that the next president, Joe Biden, will welcome them.
Hondurans gathered Wednesday night at the transportation headquarters in San Pedro Sula, the country’s second city, 180 km north of Tegucigalpa.
Although they tried to leave at that time, the police blocked their attempts due to the curfew that governs the country from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. to restrict travel due to the covid-19 pandemic.
With the first light of day, the members of the caravan began the walk this Thursday towards the border with Guatemala through the Corinto pass, about 100 km from the transport terminal.
They must go through Guatemala and Mexico. Some groups carried the Honduran flag and most were provided with masks, required as a preventive measure.
According to the call that goes viral on social networks, some 3,000 people are scheduled to meet Thursday night at the San Pedro Sula bus terminal.
From there they plan to leave at dawn on Friday, either through Corinto or Agua Caliente, the other border point with Guatemala, which means a 260 km journey.
Migrants justify the exodus in extreme poverty and lack of employment, the violence of gangs and drug traffickers in their country and the crisis left by the passage of two hurricanes in November.
-A “deadly” journey –
They also hope that Biden, who assumes the presidency of the United States on January 20, will be more flexible with immigration regulations than his predecessor Donald Trump, a possibility that has already been rejected by Washington.
“Do not waste your time and money and do not risk your safety and health,” the acting Commissioner of the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Mark A. Morgan, recommended in a statement. It is a “deadly” journey, he stressed.
In the WhatsApp groups where several of the participants have joined, opinions are exchanged, they are encouraged and photos of their movements are shared, heading to the marked meeting point.
“Here are all the people, already arriving at the great metropolitan central” of buses, the meeting point, said one of the members. It is suggested to bring water, wear comfortable shoes and even wear a white shirt. Some ask if they can travel without documents or without proof of covid-19.
Meanwhile, the Honduran police distributed about 7,000 agents, to protect the security of their compatriots to the border with Guatemala.
“Organized crime is promoting the caravans. It is sad to watch families move with the hope of improving their living conditions and exposing themselves to falling into the hands of these criminals,” Police Chief Julián Hernández told reporters.
-Guatemala on alert-
For its part, Guatemala on Thursday decreed a “state of prevention” in seven of its departments, which allows it to even dissolve public agglomerations “by force”, given the imminent arrival of the caravan.
The agreement, published in the official gazette, explains that those regions could be affected in “the order, governability and security of the inhabitants, by virtue of the fact that people and groups of people can put life, liberty, and security at risk. justice, health and peace “.
The measure covers the departments of Izabal, Zacapa, Chiquimula, Jutiapa, El Progreso, Petén and Santa Rosa, throughout the country, where the caravan is expected to transit.
It also “instructs the security forces to forcibly dissolve all types of meetings, groups or public demonstrations that take place without proper authorization.”
Meanwhile, the Mexican government has already announced that “it does not promote or allow the irregular entry of caravans of migrants, and will continue to act in accordance with its immigration law and established health protocols.”
More than a dozen caravans have left Honduras since October 2018, but have collided with the wall and the deployments of thousands of border guards and military ordered by President Trump on the southern border with Mexico.
Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras signed an agreement known as a “safe third country” with the Trump administration, in which they agree to collaborate with the United States in stopping migratory flows from the south of the continent.
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