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(Updated with new information, migrant testimony)
TEGUCIGALPA / GUATEMALA CITY, Jan 16 (Reuters) – Thousands of Central American migrants were advancing through Guatemalan territory on Saturday, defying the strong restrictions of the authorities, which forced them to try to cross at points far from the usual and more dangerous routes.
Authorities estimate that some 6,000 people from Honduras have so far entered Guatemala, according to the spokeswoman for the Guatemalan Migration Institute, Alejandra Mena.
Another group of 1,500 to 2,000 migrants made their way across the Guatemalan border around noon, according to a Reuters witness, after clashes with Guatemalan soldiers and immigration agents. A total of 3,000 people are expected to cross the El Florido border post.
Entire families, who slept around the desolate roads that connect Honduras with Guatemala, began to advance very early, despite the arrests that occurred the day before and the hundreds of soldiers who remain deployed along the border.
Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico deployed security forces to block the passage of migrants, but the caravan has been growing in recent hours, and its members say that they joined due to the crisis caused by the pandemic and the hurricanes that hit the region in 2020.
“We have nothing to feed our children. And we are thousands of people who are completely left on the street,” said María Paz, a mother of four who claimed to have lost her home after the recent storms Eta and Iota.
“That is why one sometimes makes these decisions, knowing that on this path one can even lose life and leave our children alone,” he added.
The first migrant caravan of the year comes less than a week before US President-elect Joe Biden takes office. (Report by Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa, Sofía Menchú in Guatemala City and Lizbeth Diaz in Mexico City and Laura Gottesdiener in Monterrey, edited by Sharay Angulo and Noé Torres)
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