A caravan of about 1,600 hungry and tired Honduran immigrants crossed into Guatemala on Monday with the hopes of making it to the United States.
It's the second caravan to head toward the United States this year. In March, a group of at least 1,200 Central Americans departed from the Mexican city of Tapachula, near the Mexico–Guatemala border, triggering an angry reaction from the Trump administration. It was not clear whether the group would be allowed to travel all the way to the US border. Caravans, although smaller, have been organized as far back as 2008.
The group was stopped by Guatemalan police as they attempted to make their way to an immigrant shelter in the city of Esquipulas. After about two hours, police allowed them to cross a roadblock, and the group was able to get food and water donated by people in the city.
During the standoff, the people in the caravan complained to Guatemalan authorities that they were hungry, thirsty, and tired. A young woman passed out and was rushed away to receive medical attention.
A woman carrying a child told Nuestra Esquipulas, a Guatemalan news outlet streaming the standoff, that they hadn't eaten all day.
"We only drank water, and they won't let us move ahead," she said.
The woman said she left her home and decided to make the trek because of poverty and the lack of opportunities in Honduras.
"We don't have the support of our president," she said. "There are no jobs for the poorest people. Only the sons and daughters of the politicians have jobs."
The caravan, dubbed the "March of the Migrant," took off Friday from San Pedro Sula in Honduras, one of the most dangerous cities in Latin America.
Thousands of Central Americans have left their countries in recent years for the United States and, in some cases, Mexico, citing violence and extreme poverty as reasons for leaving. Honduras has a homicide rate of 43.6 per 100,000 people, according to the Igarapé Institute, a Rio de Janeiro–based think tank. Almost half of the victims, 47%, are between the ages of 16 and 29.
Traveling in a large group offers people protection from criminals who prey on immigrants and from authorities who seek to detain and deport them.
But the size of the March caravan attracted the ire of President Trump and his administration, which tried unsuccessfully to stop the caravan from reaching the US border by pressuring the Mexican government to disband it.
By the time the group made it to Tijuana, the caravan's numbers had decreased, but it still included a few hundred people who wanted to seek asylum in the US. Initially, US border authorities didn't allow the immigrants to request asylum, but eventually at least 327 people from the caravan were allowed into the United States.
In a statement on Sunday, the Guatemalan government denounced the caravan and said it would stop the group, citing national security.
“Guatemala does not promote or endorse irregular migration in any forms, and therefore rejects movements organized for unlawful purposes which distort or use human rights, like migration, for their own end,” the statement said.
But in the end, the caravan crossed into Guatemala. The trip to Tapachula on the Mexican border was expected to take several days.
Guatemala couldn't stop the people in the caravan because they are allowed to pass through by law. Still, the caravan comes at a tricky time for Guatemala which is seeking the support of the US after its president, Jimmy Morales, said he was not renewing a commission established by the United Nations to help break up criminal networks.