BELIZE CITY, Mon. Oct. 5, 2020– Border authorities across Central America have been on high alert since last Thursday when a caravan of over 3,000 Honduran migrants entered Guatemala in an effort to reach the U.S.
According to multiple reports, the president of Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei, had to ramp up the country’s efforts to turn back the caravan over the past weekend.
Based on multiple interviews, it has been determined that immigrants are fleeing Honduras as it faces its largest recorded economic decline after COVID-19 forced the country to be on lockdown for the past six months.
Unemployment has been stated to be the lead cause of the caravan formation, and as a result, hundreds of men and women carrying children convened at a bus terminal in San Pedro Sula last Wednesday, and headed for Guatemala.
While the immigrants were fleeing to seek better living conditions, President Giammattei’s main concern was the further spread of COVID-19 in Guatemala, as the caravan entered the country without the required immigration and heath protocols being exercised.
In response to the amplified patrol at the border, the caravan had broken up into smaller cohorts after entering eastern Guatemala on Thursday in an effort to cross into Mexico. According to Al Jazeera, authorities were able to deter about 2,000 of the 3500 immigrants, while the others “continue[d] to advance”.
On Sunday, however, President Giammattei released a televised message stating that his security forces were able to contain the caravan, which he believes was a key factor in the spread of the virus through the region. According to the president, it was an “obligation” to reduce the risk of further spread of the virus through the caravan migration.
Mexico has also made efforts to deter the illegal border crossing by closing its borders and ramping up security. Here in Belize, authorities, too, remain on high alert at the western border despite that area not previously being used as a gateway by Honduran migrants in the past.
There are unconfirmed reports that Belize’s Police Department Riot Squad was seen holding drills last week in preparation for a potential face-off with members of the group who might be defiant.
Guatemala has imposed a state of prevention on Thursday in six of the country’s twenty-two departments, including all four departments bordering Honduras.
Guatemala’s borders have only been opened for two weeks subsequent to a six-month lockdown as COVID-19 cases rose beyond 90,000 and killed over 3,000 citizens of that country since March 2020.