In Pictures: Guatemala forces battle desperate Honduran migrants

First migrant caravan of the year comes days before Joe Biden takes office, promising to adopt a more humane approach to migration than Donald Trump

Guatemalan security forces used batons and tear gas to beat back a large migrant caravan bound for the United States.

A large section of the caravan clashed early on Sunday with Guatemalan security officials, some 3,000 of whom had mustered by the village of Vado Hondo, 55km (34 miles) from the borders of Honduras and El Salvador.

Guatemalan police fire tear gas to disperse a caravan of thousands of migrants heading towards the US. [Johan Ordonez/AFP]
Guatemalan police fire tear gas to disperse a caravan of thousands of migrants heading towards the US. [Johan Ordonez/AFP]

“We want the Guatemalans to let us past,” said Joaquin Ortiz, a Honduran in the caravan. “Because we’re not leaving here. We’re going to carry on. I want to get through because it’s horrible in our country. There’s nothing in Honduras.”

Between 7,000 and 8,000 migrants, including families with young children, have entered Guatemala since Friday, authorities say, fleeing poverty and violence in a region hammered by the coronavirus pandemic and back-to-back hurricanes last November.

The large contingent of Guatemalan security officers managed to stop the caravan from advancing beyond Vado Hondo, with the people in the caravan dispersing into the nearby hills or heading back the way they came.

Guatemalan soldiers block part of a Honduran migrant caravan in Vado Hondo, hoping to block the caravan's progress to the US border. [Sandra Sebastian/AP Photo]
Guatemalan soldiers block part of a Honduran migrant caravan in Vado Hondo, hoping to block the caravan’s progress to the US border. [Sandra Sebastian/AP Photo]
Guatemalan security forces used batons and tear gas to beat back a large migrant caravan bound for the US. [Sandra Sebastian/AP Photo]
Guatemalan security forces used batons and tear gas to beat back a large migrant caravan bound for the US. [Sandra Sebastian/AP Photo]
Guatemalan security forces surround the migrant caravan on a road near the border with Honduras. [Esteban Biba/EPA]
Guatemalan security forces surround the migrant caravan on a road near the border with Honduras. [Esteban Biba/EPA]

“Guatemala’s message is loud and clear: These types of illegal mass movements [of people] will not be accepted, that’s why we are working together with the neighbouring nations to address this as a regional issue,” the Guatemalan president’s office said.

Even if the caravan does get past, Mexico is preparing hundreds of security forces to stop them at its southern border, arguing it must contain the spread of coronavirus.

The pandemic has battered Honduras’ economy, which last year suffered its worst contraction on record.

Guatemalan soldiers detain a Honduran migrant. [Johan Ordonez/AFP]
Guatemalan soldiers detain a Honduran migrant. [Johan Ordonez/AFP]
The large contingent of Guatemalan security forces stopped the migrants from advancing beyond Vado Hondo. [Sandra Sebastian/AP Photo]
The large contingent of Guatemalan security forces stopped the migrants from advancing beyond Vado Hondo. [Sandra Sebastian/AP Photo]
Injured female members of the Honduran migrant caravan sit on the side of a highway after being turned back by Guatemalan security forces. [Sandra Sebastian/AP Photo]
Injured female members of the Honduran migrant caravan sit on the side of a highway after being turned back by Guatemalan security forces. [Sandra Sebastian/AP Photo]
Honduran migrants show their route on a map of Mexico and Central America, as they sit near a police roadblock. [Sandra Sebastian/AP Photo]
Honduran migrants show their route on a map of Mexico and Central America, as they sit near a police roadblock. [Sandra Sebastian/AP Photo]
The first migrant caravan of the year comes days before Joe Biden takes office, promising to adopt a more humane approach to migration than Donald Trump. [Luis Echeverria/Reuters]
The first migrant caravan of the year comes days before Joe Biden takes office, promising to adopt a more humane approach to migration than Donald Trump. [Luis Echeverria/Reuters]

AL JAZEERA News

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