Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, at least 3,000 Honduran migrants en route to the United States

Posted today at 00:53, updated at 02:38

At least 3,000 Honduran migrants, according to the Guatemalan Migration Institute, crossed Thursday 1er October, the border with Guatemala, in the hope of reaching the United States, despite the risks and restrictions linked to the pandemic due to the new coronavirus.

These migrants had left on the night of Wednesday to Thursday San Pedro Sula, the second city of Honduras, located 180 km north of Tegucigalpa, to flee poverty and violence in this small Central American country.

A Honduran migrant stands in front of members of the Guatemalan army in Entre Rios, Guatemala, after crossing the border into Honduras, October 1, 2020.

On the Honduran side, at the Corinto border post (northeast), police and soldiers surrounded the migrants to prevent them from passing if they did not show a negative test for Covid-19. But the police finally gave in to the pressure of migrants massed with cries of “Outside JOH”, named after Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez.

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In Guatemala, which reopened its land, air and sea borders last week, closed for six months due to the pandemic, migrants have been forced by the military to wait in a long queue to present their identity documents and continue their journey, noted journalists from Agence France-Presse (AFP). According to the director of the National Institute of Migration of Honduras, Carolina Menjivar, migrants have been turned away from Guatemela.

Honduran migrants cross the police barrier into Guatemala en route to the United States, at the border of Corinto, Honduras, on October 1.

“If we stay here we will starve to death”

Members of the Guatemalan army distribute water to migrants in Entre Rios, Guatemala, on October 1.

As in previous caravans, migrants cited unemployment, poor education and health services, and gang violence as the reasons for their flight. Reasons to which are now added the economic and social consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. “We are leaving because of the poverty, the pandemic and everything that is happening here, Geovanny Torres, 27, told AFP. We are looking for other dreams. We want to evolve. If we stay here, we will starve to death. “

Others, like Carlos Salgado, 21, illegally crossed the border by opening a fence near the customs post. “Because of the pandemic, the situation will get even worse” on the economic plan. “All the money for the pandemic was stolen by Juan Orlando” Hernandez, accuses the young man.

At the border of Corinto, Honduras, October 1.

The majority of migrants did not wear masks to prevent contamination, AFP noted, and nurses, dispatched to the site, to take their temperature. According to the Honduran Red Cross, which assists migrants, 1,200 people left San Pedro Sula overnight in a first group, followed a few hours later by around 2,000 others.

AFP journalists could see them walking along roads towards the border with Guatemala. The majority of migrants are young men. Fewer women with young children were seen in the groups than previously.

A call to come together on social networks

“We don’t think about the pandemic, it’s the last thing we think about. We want our family to get out ”20-year-old Jefrey Amaya, along with seven other young people from the community of El Negrito, in the department of Yoro, about twenty kilometers from San Pedro Sula, told AFP. The young man said he saw a call to come together on social networks.

At the border of Corinto, Honduras, October 1.

Since January, the date of a last departure of around 2,000 people, no appeal launched on social networks had prospered, in particular because of the restrictions and risks linked to the coronavirus health crisis.

In recent years, thousands of Central American nationals moving in large groups have crossed the border with Mexico, with the goal of crossing the US border, to flee poverty and violence in their countries.

On Thursday, a Honduran migrant died in Guatemala, crushed under the wheels of a truck on which “He was trying to climb”, said the director of the Guatemalan Migration Institute, Guillermo Diaz.

In Entre Rios, Guatemala, October 1.

After the large caravans of late 2018 and early 2019, faced with threats of retaliation from US President Donald Trump to prevent these caravans from approaching the border with the United States, Mexico has deployed some 26,000 troops at the borders south and north of the country.

According to the Honduran government, as of September 27, 31,022 Hondurans had been deported, most from Mexico and the United States and the rest from Guatemala.

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