New migrant caravan leaves Honduras headed to US

Despite US tightening immigration policies caravan leaves Honduras because of insecurity, lack of work

Wilfredo Miranda   | 15.01.2020
New migrant caravan leaves Honduras headed to US

MANAGUA, Nicaragua 

The Central of Interurban Buses of San Pedro Sula, in Honduras, is more populated than usual since Monday.  

That is because dozens of Catracho migrants, colloquial adjective for Hondurans in Central America, have congregated at to depart Wednesday in a human caravan to the United States.

Among those preparing for the trip there is a lot of optimism, despite the fact that the Trump administration has tightened immigration regulations to prevent caravans from reaching the border with the U.S.

“We are going because of insecurity here. The situation is very difficult. There is no work … then there is no future,” said a migrant who intends to reach the U.S. 

Thecaravan would be the fifth registered since Oct.13, 2018, when caravans made international eadlines and generated a reaction from U.S. President Donald Trump, who does not want migrants in his country.

The Permanent Contingency Commission (COPECP), attached to the government of Juan Orlando Hernandez, said that last weekend the flow of migrants increased from Honduras to Guatemala, a country migrants must go through to reach the US.

To avoid problems with Guatemalan authorities, many Hondurans who left last Wednesday said the reason for their trip was to venerate the Black Christ of Esquipulas, in Guatemala.

In 2019, outgoing Guatemalan Pesident Jimmy Morales signed, under pressure from Trump, an agreement to turn Guatemalan soil into "a safe third country."

It allows, under certain conditions, one country to accept asylum seekers from another, which would allow Guatemala to welcome Hondurans, or people from other countries, which, according to the interpretation of organizations that defend the rights of the migrants, would stop the migration of Central Americans to the United States.

Although the new caravan was convened through social networks, no organization has so far attributed the mobilization.

The former deputy and leader of the Freedom and Refoundation Party (LIBRE), Bartolo Fuentes, said he did not urge migrants to form the caravan - as it has been attributed on other occasions - but said "migrating is not a crime."

Fuentes said that the chances of migrants arriving in Mexico are remote, since "they will be detained in Guatemala."  

20,000 Honduran migrants 

The government of Hernandez estimates in the last 15 months approximately 20,000 Hondurans have gone by caravan to the United States. 

Most people have been deported or returned voluntarily, while, according to figures, 5,587 are in Mexico waiting the United States to respond to their asylum request.

Honduras signed the agreement to become a "safe third country." The interim Secretary of American National Security Chad Wolf said in the coming weeks the U.S. will put into operation the agreement to define procedures for transferring people and the number of asylees, among other details.

Wolf insists that if Honduras, one of the most violent countries in the world, has "better security," migration will go down.

“We define the following stages to improve security with the private sector and the international community, to improve prosperity and economic development in the country,” said Chad.

The number of Hondurans living outside their country are about 1.5 million. Most live in the United States, Mexico and other countries in Central America, without adding those who reside in Spain and Italy, among other countries.  

Honduras, after Nicaragua, is the second poorest country in Central America and is ravaged by extreme levels of gang violence and organized crime.

Meanwhile, migrants who will leave Wednesday say if they cannot reach the U.S., at least they will stay in Mexico or Guatemala "where there is work.” 

*Maria Paula Trivino and Juan Velez from Colombia contributed to the story

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