POPTUN, Guatemala – More than 1,900 Honduran migrants went through various parts of Guatemala on Friday and remained firm in their struggle to seek the American dream, despite the obstacles of the route and the inspections of local security forces.
The migrant caravan that entered Guatemala illegally on Thursday morning, with more than 3,000 people, dispersed on Friday into groups and although around 100 Hondurans began to return, most of them continued their journey.
The Guatemalan Migration Institute told journalists that a group of approximately 700 people is heading to the department of Peten, in the north of the country, “using heavy transport or minibuses.”
Another 800 Hondurans, divided into small groups of 25 people, are going through the department of Izabal, on the Guatemalan coast to the Atlantic Ocean.
According to the same source, 400 Hondurans were traveling to Guatemala City, both on foot and on buses. The route of other smaller groups is unknown at the moment.
The goal of all Hondurans is to overcome the Mexican border to later reach the US in search of better opportunities.
The Guatemalan authorities have treated at least 20 unaccompanied minors who were in the group.
In contrast, more than 100 Hondurans of the caravan voluntarily left Guatemala this Friday and returned to their country of origin, according to various sources.
“I was excited to go to the United States. We thought we were all going to reach the border with Mexico together. But everyone here in Guatemala was distributed. And it’s not worth it because I’m going without money,” Ricardo Pineda, one of the migrants who began to return to his country, told EFE.
“I came because we wanted to see if we could do it with the caravan. I had that hope,” added Pineda, 39, from Puerto Cortes.
The migrants who voluntarily returned to Honduras were transported in some cases by “trucks from the Guatemalan Army and police units,” the Guatemalan government said.
Many of the Hondurans who decided to suspend their trip were in the department of Izabal, some 250 kilometers northeast of the country’s capital.
In Izabal, soldiers with megaphones tried to convince Hondurans to return to their country, in an “awareness campaign,” as cataloged by a soldier who preferred not to identify himself.
The Guatemalan security forces have conducted tours and checkpoints in various parts of the north of the country to allegedly control migrants, although at the moment data on deportations has not been released.
Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei ordered on Thursday night the state of prevention in six of the 22 departments of the territory due to the illegal entry of the migrant caravan.
The state of prevention, according to Guatemalan law, limits outdoor gatherings and allows the dissolution of unauthorized demonstrations or groups.
The provision, according to the president, is due to the illegal entry of Honduran migrants this Thursday and their “disrespect” for the health protocols implemented by the country to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
According to Guatemalan regulations, all foreigners entering the country must show proof that they are negative for the disease.
“Not only did they violate entry into the national territory, but they also caused disorder in the immigration station,” emphasized the 64-year-old retired doctor and surgeon.
The departments where the prevention status was implemented are Izabal, Peten, Zacapa, El Progreso, Jutiapa and Chiquimula, located in the eastern and northern areas of the territory.
Authorities expected a new entry of thousands of Hondurans this Friday, but the Guatemalan Migration Institute did not register incidents on Friday.
Lack of employment, insecurity and criminal violence are reasons why many Hondurans migrate daily to other places, according to sources from human rights organizations.
One of the biggest caravans, and one of the first of its kind, left on Oct. 13, 2018 with more than 4,000 people.
Despite the failure of this trip, Pineda has not lost hope of emigrating to the US soon.
“My brother was in the 2018 caravan. He suffered but arrived,” recalls the migrant. “I’m going to get to the United States with a ‘coyote’ or whatever God wants. But one day I’m going to get there.”