VADO HONDO, Guatemala (Reuters) – Guatemalan security forces used sticks to beat back a migrant caravan early on Sunday after thousands of people set off from Honduras for the United States this week, just as President-elect Joe Biden prepares to enter the White House.
Between 7,000 and 8,000 migrants have entered Guatemala since Friday, according to Guatemala’s immigration authority, fleeing poverty and violence in a region hammered by the coronavirus pandemic and back-to-back hurricanes in November.
However, around 3,000 Guatemalan security officials mustered in the village of Vado Hondo in eastern Guatemala to hold up the caravan, leading to the clashes on Sunday morning.
Video footage shared by the Guatemalan government showed hundreds of migrants pressing into a wall of security forces, which used sticks to repel the surge of people. An unspecified number of people have been injured, authorities said.
Between Friday and Saturday, Guatemala had sent back almost 1,000 migrants entering from Honduras, the Guatemalan government said, as the caravan tried to advance towards Mexico.
The caravan is likely to come under more pressure in Mexico.
On Saturday evening, the Mexican foreign ministry pressed Central American authorities to halt the caravan’s progress, pointing to the need to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Mexico, it said, was committed to orderly and regulated migration and would oppose any form of unauthorized entry.
The first migrant caravan of the year comes less than a week before U.S. President-elect Joe Biden takes power, promising a more humane approach to migration, in contrast to outgoing President Donald Trump’s hardline policies.
Mexican and Central American authorities have coordinated security and public health measures in a bid to deter mass movement of people across the region.
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