Photo by Vic Hinterlang

Nearly 8,000 migrants from Honduras entered Guatemala this past weekend in hopes of escaping poverty and violence.

The migrant caravan was headed to the United States, but was faced with Guatemalan forces using tear gas on Jan 17. Since Friday, thousands of migrants, including children, fled Honduras to escape violence and unemployment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to soaring COVID-19 cases, two hurricanes they faced in November caused Honduras great financial devastation and left thousands homeless.

“The combination of COVID-19, social exclusion, violence, and climate-related disasters that occur at the same time with a magnitude seldom seen before in Central America raises new humanitarian challenges,” the International Committee of the Red Cross said in a statement.

The migrants are posing high risks of spreading the COVID-19 virus, causing the Honduran, Guatemalan and Mexican governments to work together to find methods of mitigation. 

Some of the migrants are returning to Honduras, but many want Guatemalan forces to let them pass through. The migrants who are refusing to go back to Honduras say they’ve experienced violence from the Guatemalan military. 

According to a report in Reuters, Elmer Espinal and his infant daughter were both attacked with tear gas.

“My daughter almost choked,” Espinal told Reuters. “I want a future for my girls … there’s no work over there in Honduras.”

“We want the Guatemalans to let us past,” Joaquin Ortiz, a Honduran, told Reuters. “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.”

The Guatemalan military detained hundreds of migrants and the Mexican government has deployed 500 immigration officers at their borders, prepared to block entry into their county.  

The migrant caravan towards the U.S. comes right before President-elect Joe Biden’s Inauguration. The Honduran migrants are hoping to reach the U.S. border to receive amnesty under the Biden administration. 

Written ByLauren Akabori

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