MEXICO CITY – Thousands of Central Americans in a migrant caravan on Monday reached the border between Guatemala and Mexico.
Personnel from the Mexican National Guard, the national defense secretary (Sedena) and the national migration institute (INM) were deployed to the Rodolfo Robles bridge connecting Tecun Uman in Guatemala with the southeastern state of Chiapas in Mexico.
Around 5,000 migrants arrived at the frontier, which was closed by Mexican authorities.
Once there, representatives from the caravan delivered a message to authorities seeking permission from President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador for free passage through the country.
They asked the Mexican leader to respond within three hours.
“We are going to wait for the Mexican government to send representations in the next three hours that we are here. That’s how we will start the dialogue, because this is a dialogue,” a representative of the so-called Migrant Caravan 2020: God is Love said.
Some in the caravan, which comprised mainly of Hondurans, but also numerous people from El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala, chanted “Viva Mexico.”
“We are migrants, not criminals. We are international workers,” were some of the slogans heard as the crowd gathered at the border crossing.
There were tensions between migrants and the National Guard on Saturday as security officials sprayed tear gas to stop a number of people pushing through the border.
Although Lopez Obrador has said he would offer up to 4,000 jobs to foreign workers in the south of Mexico, caravan representatives were wary the offer could lead to them being deported.
The INM reported this weekend that authorities had attended to 1,987 migrants in the south of Mexico, 663 on the Chiapas border area, and 424 in the town of El Ceibo, in Tabasco.
Addressing the crowd through a loudspeaker at the border, authorities said: “Do not become exposed to human traffickers. Your life is in danger. Do not be fooled. It is not certain that the United States is going to give you asylum. On the contrary, they could immediately return you to Guatemala.”
Border officials had been expecting the caravan to arrive on Sunday, but the migrant train decided to postpone proceedings to swell in numbers from 2,500 to 5,000.
The caravan left in the direction of the Guatemalan border on Wednesday.
In 2018, thousands of people entered Mexico to flee poverty and violence in their home countries.
Most intended to reach US territory, prompting tensions between Washington and Mexico City.
In June 2019, the US agreed not to go ahead with sanctions if Mexico agreed to deploy the National Guard to its southern border area.