Caravan migrants break Guatemala border fence, rush Mexico

2018-10-20 06:55
Central American migrants rush the gate at the border crossing in Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, Oct 19, 2018.

Central American migrants rush the gate at the border crossing in Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, Oct 19, 2018.

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Central Americans traveling in a mass caravan broke through a Guatemalan border fence and streamed by the thousands toward Mexican territory on Friday, defying Mexican authorities' entreaties for an orderly migration and US President Donald Trump's threats of retaliation.

Arriving on the Mexican side of a border bridge, they were met by a phalanx of police with riot shields. About 50 managed to push their way through before officers unleashed pepper spray and the rest retreated.

The gates were closed again, and a federal police officer used a loudspeaker to address the masses, saying, "We need you to stop the aggression."

Waving Honduran flags and carrying umbrellas to protect against the sun, the migrants arrived earlier at the Guatemalan side of the muddy Suchiate River that divides the country from Mexico, noisily demanding they be let in.

"One way or another, we will pass," they changed, clambering atop to US-donated military jeeps parked at the scene as Guatemalan police looked on.

Young men began tugging on the fencing and finally succeeded in tearing it down, and men, women and children rushed through and toward the border bridge just up the road.

Edwin Santos of San Pedro Sula was one of the first to race past helpless Guatemalan police, clutching the hands of his father and wife.

"We are going to the United States!" he shouted euphorically. "Nobody is going to stop us!"

Earlier Friday, Mexico's ambassador to Guatemala said his country intended to enforce what he called a policy of orderly entry in the face of the thousands trying to cross.

Ambassador Luis Manuel Lopez Moreno added that more than 100 migrants had been allowed to cross the bridge to apply for refugee status, including some who were from the caravan and others who were not.

"There is nothing there"

Meanwhile, the rafts that normally ferry throngs of people across the river were carrying mostly merchandise and the raft operators said they had been warned by Mexican authorities not to carry people.

Jose Porfirio Orellana, a 47-year-old acorn and bean farmer from Yoro province in Honduras, said he hopes to reach the United States due to woeful economic conditions in his country.

"There is nothing there," Orellana said.

The first members of the 3 000-strong caravan began arriving in the Guatemalan border town of Tecun Uman on buses and trucks early on Thursday, but the bulk of the group sloshed into town on foot in a downpour late in the afternoon and into the evening.

As the sun rose, a military helicopter flew along the Mexican side of the river foreshadowing the difficulties they could face. At the same time, several busloads of Mexican federal police in riot gear deployed at the border crossing in Ciudad Hidalgo.

Jonathan Guzman, who joined the mass procession caravan en route, said he dreams of finding a construction job in Los Angeles. "It's the third time that I'm trying to cross," the 22-year-old Salvadoran said.

Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Videgaray said those with passports and valid visas would be let in immediately, though he acknowledged that "we anticipate those are the minority."

Those who want to apply for refuge in Mexico will be welcome to do so "if they have a vulnerable situation in their country of origin," Videgaray said in an interview with the Televisa network.

Any who decide to cross illegally and are caught will be detained and deported, the Mexican government has said.

Trump has made it clear to Mexico that he is monitoring its response. Early on Thursday, he threatened to close the US border if Mexico let the migrants advance. Later, he retweeted a video of Mexican federal police arriving at the Guatemalan border and wrote: "Thank you Mexico, we look forward to working with you!"

In April, Mexican immigration officials had some success in dispersing a smaller caravan by processing many who decided to seek refugee status in Mexico, but some did continue on to the US border.

Asked in the Televisa interview whether Mexico was doing Trump's "dirty work," Videgaray said Mexico "defines its migration policy in a sovereign manner" and the country's priority is to protect the migrants and ensure their human rights.

He did not seem concerned about Trump's threat to close the US-Mexico border, saying the threat should be viewed in light of the hotly contested midterm elections in the United States, in which Trump has made border security a major campaign issue.

The foreign secretary noted that 1 million people transit the border legally every day, and about $1m in commerce crosses every minute.

"Before taking decisions of that kind," Videgaray said, "there would be many people in the United States ... who would consider the consequences."

Read more on:    us  |  mexico

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
Traffic

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

SQL Reporter

Cape Town
Communicate Cape Town IT
R10 000.00 - R12 000.00 Per Month

HSE Manager

Cape Town
Tumaini Consulting
R550 000.00 - R650 000.00 Per Year

Reporting Accountant

Cape Town
Network Finance Professional / Prudential
R310 000.00 - R360 000.00 Per Year

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.