More Honduran migrants seek to join
U.S.-bound group in Guatemala
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[October 18, 2018]
By Edgard Garrido
CHIQUIMULA, Guatemala (Reuters) - More
Honduran migrants tried to join a caravan of several thousand trekking
through Guatemala on Wednesday, defying calls by authorities not to make
the journey after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to cut off
regional aid in reprisal.
The caravan has been growing steadily since it left the violent Honduran
city of San Pedro Sula on Saturday. The migrants hope to reach Mexico
and then cross its northern border with the United States, to seek
refuge from endemic violence and poverty in Central America.
Several thousand people are now journeying in the caravan, according to
a Reuters witness traveling with the group in Guatemala, where men,
women and children on foot or riding in trucks filled a road on their
long journey to Mexico.
A first group made it to Guatemala City by dusk on Wednesday. They
crammed into a migrant shelter and a primary school across the road and
bedded down on inflatable mattresses.
"My husband was an electrician. They killed him nine months ago," said
Carolina Aguilar, 40, from the gang-controlled town of Choloma, sitting
on a patch of ground with her two daughters, 17 and 11.
"We don't have a house and I have no job. We only manage to live from
gifts," she said.
Many had hitched rides or walked about 150 miles (241 km)from the
"We've lived in neighborhoods where our children have seen disaster
after disaster," said Daisy Turcios, at an earlier stop on the road. "We
have seen dead bodies thrown in front of us. So that's my goal, in
truth, to reach a country where life can change for my children."
Nearby, kneeling in the dirt, Abigail Castro kissed her small son and
wrapped her most precious documents into a plastic bag, waterproofing
them against uncertain conditions ahead.
"Whatever money I have, I need it to buy drinks for my son, fruit," she
said. Some friendly Guatemalans had offered transport in pickup trucks
or cars, she said, but "everyone wants to get on" so they would have to
go by foot.
THREAT TO FOREIGN AID
Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales said on Wednesday his government
rejected constraints placed on foreign aid.
"No help can be conditioned and no help can be demanded," Morales told
reporters in the Guatemalan capital.
He said he had spoken with his Honduran counterpart, President Juan
Orlando Hernandez, about ensuring that those migrants who want to return
home can do so safely, and cited reports indicating that many people
from the caravan are returning to Honduras.
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Honduran migrants, part of a caravan trying to reach the U.S., are
seen on a truck during a new leg of her travel in Zacapa, Guatemala
October 17, 2018. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
President Trump decried "horrendous weak and outdated immigration
laws," in a series of Twitter messages starting on Tuesday. He
threatened to cut off aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador if
they fail to prevent undocumented immigrants from heading to the
"Hard to believe that with thousands of people from South of the
Border, walking unimpeded toward our country in the form of large
Caravans, that the Democrats won't approve legislation that will
allow laws for the protection of our country," Trump said on Twitter
The Honduran government has urged citizens not to join the caravan,
calling it politically motivated. On Wednesday morning near the
Guatemalan border, authorities could be seen stopping Hondurans
still hoping to join, with police in riot gear at one checkpoint
halting buses carrying at least a hundred people.
The men, women and children carried on toward the border on foot,
Reuters photographs showed, with some later fording a jungle river
near the frontier after unconfirmed reports that Guatemalan
authorities had stopped letting Hondurans enter the country.
Guatemalan authorities did not provide an estimate of the size of
the caravan, which aims to pass through Guatemala City before
heading to Mexico.
Adult citizens of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua
need only present national identity cards to cross each others'
borders. That regional immigration agreement does not apply when
they reach Mexico.
Mexico said anyone who enters the country with a Mexican visa can
move freely, while those without proper documents would be subject
to review and could be deported.
"This measure responds not only to compliance with national
legislation, but particularly to the interest of the Mexican
Government to avoid that such people become victims of human
trafficking networks," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
(Reporting by Edgard Garrido, Jorge Cabrera and Sofia Menchu in
Guatemala; Writing by Delphine Schrank and Daina Beth Solomon;
Editing by Tom Brown, David Gregorio and Richard Chang)
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