29 de febrero de 2020
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Migrant caravan delays entry into Mexico, expected to double in size

By Pedro Pablo Cortes

Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, Jan 19 (efe-epa).- Although they had been expected to cross the border from Guatemala into Mexico on Sunday, during the day members of the migrant caravan on the frontier announced that they will postpone their border crossing until Monday morning because they are still anticipating that additional migrants - bringing the total to between 5,000 and 8,000 - will join them.

Officials in the Guatemalan municipality of Tecun Uman calculated that some 2,500 people are currently at the Casa de Migrante and in special camps set up to house them, although others - such as Otulio Bautista - are resting on the Rodolfo Robles Bridge linking Guatemala with the Mexican state of Chiapas.

"We're asking Mexico to support us. We're coming peacefully, we're not going to fight, we're calm because in our country we can't stand the hunger any longer, the lack of work, the government. It's a lot of corruption. We have to emigrate," said the Honduran in an interview with EFE.

The migrant was resting along with his companions on the border bridge, where calm and regular traffic passage has prevailed after the altercation on Saturday, when the Mexican National Guard restricted bridge access and fired tear gas at dozens of Central Americans who tried to literally shove their way through to Mexican territory.

After that, during the day, 821 Hondurans, 38 Guatemalans, 19 Salvadorans and three Nicaraguans crossed the bridge into Chiapas, Guatemala's National Immigration Institute reported.

The migrants who remained in Tecun Uman generally told EFE that they were aiming to get to the United States, contrary to the conditions imposed by the Mexican government, which offered asylum and jobs to Central Americans but only in far southern Mexico and forbade them to cross the Mexico-US border.

"They're lying to the people. We don't trust them because they're liars, for saying that," said 17-year-old Alejandro Flores, traveling alone because he received death threats from the same gangs that murdered his father.

The Human Rights Observation and Monitoring Collective of Southeastern Mexico said in a communique that Mexican immigration authorities have created tension and uncertainty among the migrants due to the lack of clarity in the country's migration policy.

The group said that the increase in the number of National Guard personnel deployed in the area and the lack of information about migration stations where Central Americans who entered the country legally can stay have both added to the migrants' concern.

Thousands of Honduran migrants last Wednesday set out for the border with Guatemala as part of a caravan heading toward the US after the group was convened via social media.

The phenomenon recalls what happened in October 2018, when several caravans of thousands of Central American migrants entered Mexico fleeing poverty and violence in their homelands with the aim of getting to the US, thus sparking tensions between Mexico City and Washington.

The US and Mexico reached an agreement in June 2019 whereby the Donald Trump administration withdrew its threat to impose tariffs on Mexican products in exchange for Mexico City's deployment of its newly-created National Guard on its border with Guatemala to halt the illegal migrant flow.

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