Guatemala pushes ahead with migrant returns to Honduran border

Luis Echeverria
·2 min read

By Luis Echeverria

EL FLORIDO, Guatemala, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Guatemala said on Tuesday it was pressing on with transporting migrants back to the border with Honduras, after their U.S.-bound caravan was halted by security forces at the weekend.

Nearly 8,000 people entered Guatemala from Honduras last week, and a Reuters witness estimated around 2,000 of them ended up stuck in the village of Vado Hondo when Guatemalan forces barred passage.

Security forces removed them on Monday. Voluntary returns of migrants by bus were ongoing on Tuesday, the government said.

Late on Monday, Guatemala's government said 3,329 migrants had so far been sent back, the vast majority of them to Honduras. The list also included 96 Salvadorans and five Nicaraguans.

Some 1,446 migrants, many of them children, had been returned to Honduras via the El Florido border crossing and two others since Friday, the Honduran government said.

Some migrants said they were injured as security officials wielding batons and plastic shields forced them from the road in Vado Hondo. Many migrants then boarded buses for El Florido.

"It's not fair that they treat us like dogs, like animals," said Andy Osorio from Honduras.

A Guatemalan army spokesman said on Monday that some migrants attacked soldiers with stones, and that soldiers had used "minimal and proportionate force."

Some in the caravan fled into the mountains during the road clearance, saying they did not want to board the buses.

"We're running," said Rosa Alvarez, a Honduran mother traveling with children, who said they had been affected by teargas used by Guatemalan authorities. "We have no money or food." (Reporting by Luis Echeverria in El Florido, Sofia Menchu in Guatemala City, Laura Gottesdiener in Tapachula, Mexico and Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa; Writing by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Howard Goller)