A second so-called “caravan” of migrants from Central America braved the barrier separating Guatemala from Mexico. Hundreds of people confronted armed police at Ciudad Hidalgo, which is across the Usumacinta River from the Guatemalan town of Tecun Uman. Some shouted on Sunday, “We don’t want to stay in Mexico: we want to go forward.” Local media reported that several persons were injured in confrontations with the national police units in Tecun Uman. 

Approximately 2000 migrants were able to break through the wire barrier, and enter Mexico. At least one man -- a 26-year-old Honduran national -- died in the fracas, having crossed into Mexico. Guatemalan anti-riot police deployed tear gas on the migrants, who responded by wielding clubs and throwing rocks. Mexican police stood in the way on their side of the international bridge connecting Mexico and Guatemala, seeking to prevent the migrants from crossing on foot or by swimming. Women could be seen at the crossing who tried to shield their children from the tear gas. 

Some of the migrants eschew the title of “caravan” and prefer to label themselves members of an “exodus” who are seeking to flee hunger and violence in their countries. Known as the Northern Tier of Central America, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have high levels of privation, crime and poor governance. 

Yet another group of migrants is forming in neighboring El Salvador, who also have the intention of marching to the US border. The first group of about 7000 left San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on October 13 and also managed to walk or ride through Guatemala and then break through the barrier into Mexico. President Donald Trump threatened to restrict foreign aid to the three Central American republics he held responsible, prompting Guatemala to arrest caravan organizer Bartolo Fuentes -- a leftist politician from Honduras. He was deported to his native country. The migrants are mostly from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. However, Trump suggested that some of them may be from outside of the region and from as far away as Bangladesh and Angola. In recent years, authorities in Central America have noticed an uptick in the number of illegal immigrants coming from Asia and Africa, as well as South America.

The Mexican government announced its “You’re home (Estás en tu casa), which provides the migrants with refugee status should they remain in the southernmost region of the country: Chiapas. Officials assured migrants over loudspeakers: “The only way to enter the country is peacefully and safely. Migrants are increasingly frustrated over the slowness of Mexico’s processing of identity and travel documents. Some complain that they may die of hunger and cold while they wait. Others claim that they do not wish to have asylum status in Mexico, but do want to migrate to the US. Mexico offers asylum-seekers shelter at detention centers not far from the border, from where migrants fear Mexican immigration authorities will deport them.



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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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