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Migrant caravan from Honduras stopped in Guatemala

SAN PEDRO SULA, HONDURAS (AP) – Several hundred migrants who had departed from the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula on Saturday in hopes of reaching the United States (US) entered Guatemalan territory where they were intercepted by authorities who began talks on returning them to their homelands.

Some 300 migrants, mainly Hondurans and Nicaraguans, arrived in Corinto, Honduras on Saturday afternoon and crossed into the Guatemalan border province of Izabal, where they were met by hundreds of anti-riot agents from the national police and army.

The Guatemalan Migration Institute said it was in talks with the migrants on returning them to their countries of origin. Those who wish to remain in Guatemala must present their personal identification document, vaccination card and a negative test for the coronavirus.

“People are being returned, everything in order, humanely,” said Institute General Director Carlos Emilio Morales.

“We are protecting our borders; we are protecting the health of all Guatemalans.” Guatemala’s government said 36 people were deported to Honduras because they did not meet the requirements and a group of 10 who met immigration and health requirements were allowed to continue.

The migrants had begun their journey toward the US from San Pedro Sula shortly after dawn on Saturday, walking to the Guatemalan border in hopes that travelling in a group would be safer or cheaper than trying to hire smugglers or trying on their own.

They were joined by a second smaller group.

Fabricio Ordoñez, a young Honduran labourer, said he had joined the group in hopes of “giving a new life to my family”.

“The dream is to be in the US to be able to do many things in Honduras,” he said, adding he was pessimistic that left-leaning President-elect Xiomara Castro, who takes office on January 27, would be able to quickly solve the Central American nation’s economic and social problems after 12 years of conservative administrations plagued by scandal.

“They have looted everything,” he said. “It is going to be very hard for this government to improve things.”

Honduran police check documents of migrants who are part of a caravan hoping to reach the United States, in Corinto. PHOTO: AP