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Alexander is tired. He has been sleeping in the open for three nights, like many of his fellow Hondurans who go on foot in a caravan to the United States. But despite the fact that the Guatemalan police block him, he will not give up.
“I only returned to Honduras dead, what am I going to do to Honduras? Just to die, either of hunger or violence,” this 24-year-old man from the Honduran city of Limón, where he worked, told AFP. as a taxi driver, but was unemployed after the pandemic.
Hungry and exhausted after more than three days of caravanning, thousands of Honduran migrants refuse to give up the dream of reaching the United States, interrupted for the moment by half a thousand police and military who have already made it clear that they will not pass. On Sunday, they were fired with tear gas and beaten.
“We are sad, heartbroken, hungry, tired from the journey, but I plan to put up with everything in order to get to the United States,” says Marta del Cid, 40, originally from San Pedro Sula, in northern Honduras.
They woke up lying on the asphalt of the road, or on the shore, where there is dry grass, at kilometer 177 of the Vado Hondo village, about 50 km from the border with Honduras. Whole families travel, many with children.
At night it is cool and the luckiest people can protect themselves from the cold with a blanket. Most just bundle up with a sweater or the T-shirts they bring among their few belongings. During the day, the sun sets the stones on fire.
– Living under a bridge –
Marta is saddened that she joined the caravan because she lost her belongings in the two hurricanes that hit Central America in November and that she was living under a bridge.
“We lost everything, and in Honduras the government treats us like garbage,” laments this woman who travels with her two children, aged 24 and three. The clothes you wear are already dirty.
Carlos Valle, 34, who travels alone, driven by unemployment, left his three children aged four, eight and 11 with relatives in Comayagua (center) and did not lose faith in reaching the goal either. “We are tired, but we are going to resist and I hope that Guatemala will let us pass to continue the march to the United States,” he says.
Like many of his compatriots, he blames President Juan Orlando Hernández for the crisis. “The government we have is the most terrible, yes, every month the electricity bill arrives even though we do not have that service,” said Carlos.
Honduran migrants say they escape violence, poverty, unemployment and lack of education and health, a situation worsened by the pandemic. They are also hopeful of a possible easing of immigration policies in the United States, after Joe Biden takes office. A possibility that Washington has already rejected.
– Damage count –
The group, initially estimated at 9,000 by immigration authorities, left San Pedro Sula in Honduras early Friday morning. He crossed the border with Guatemala between the night and the early hours of Saturday and managed to advance to Vado Hondo.
Before their attempt to continue, they were repelled with sticks and tear gas from the military and police. Many migrants were injured in the skirmish, where the military used long sticks to beat them and prevent them from overcoming the barrier.
The bulk of the group has been reduced to about 4,000 people. The rest have dispersed. Some 800 have been contained in a nearby town and more than 1,500 have returned voluntarily.
Among the migrants who voluntarily went to health centers in the area, the Guatemalan Ministry of Health detected 21 cases of covid-19.
The permanence of the caravan is also beginning to wreak havoc on the economy, because it is blocking an important freight transport passage, which supplies businesses and industry in the area.
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