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Guatemala forces stall migrant caravan with tear gas, batons
A massive caravan of US-bound Honduran immigrants largely dissipated on Tuesday, with most migrants forced to return home after a days-long standoff with Guatemalan military.
While small groups of immigrants pressed on toward the Mexican border, thousands were loaded onto military trucks and buses — some provided by Mexico — and returned to El Florido on the Honduran border, authorities said.
“Yesterday the police said they didn’t want us to pass,” immigrant Rosa Maria Baquedan told the Honduran newspaper La Prensa.
“What we want is for them to help us,” she said. “We don’t want to return to our country because it’s very poor right now.”
Baquedan said she lost contact with her husband and one of her children during the confrontation with Guatemalan security forces.
The massive caravan — reported to be as large as 8,000 strong at one point — was headed to the US border with Mexico believing incoming President Joe Biden’s new immigration policies would allow them into the country.
But the march hit a wall in Vado Hondo, Guatemala, where soldiers deployed tear gas and pushed back the onrush of immigrants on Monday.
“@GuatemalaGob is carrying out its responsibilities by responding appropriately & lawfully to the recent migrant caravan,” Michael Kozak, acting assistant secretary for the US State Department Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, said on Twitter.
“Protecting borders & public safety is difficult, but essential,” he wrote “Upholding health protocols is a critical first step for our region to recover from.”
Many of the migrants were fleeing harsh economic conditions and rampant spread of the coronavirus in Hondurans, officials said.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador last week sent thousands of National Guard troops to its border to halt the caravan if necessary.
With Post wires
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