More than 2,000 US-bound migrants abandon trek in Guatemala

More than 2,000 migrants on Saturday dropped their bid to reach the United States after Guatemala threatened to expel them out of concern they might spread Covid-19.

The group, mostly made up of Hondurans who set out last Thursday from San Pedro Sula, asked local authorities to help them return home, the Guatemalan president’s office told news media.

An AFP journalist saw some being loaded into army trucks for the return trip.

But some small groups said they remained determined to reach the US to escape the poverty and violence in their home country.

Late Thursday, Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei had ordered the Hondurans detained and sent home. However, he urged them to return voluntarily.

“Amid the current health emergency, not only did they fail to respect measures to enter the country but also health measures established to protect our citizens,” he said.

Guatemalan officials said some 3,000 people originally crossed the border without submitting to a Covid-19 test, required for foreigners entering the country. Many were not wearing masks.

Giammattei said that “a massive group of Hondurans violently broke in” to the country some 300 kilometers (190 miles) northeast of Guatemala City.

The caravan split up once in Guatemala, with a larger group taking a northern route toward Mexico and the smaller one following a southwesterly route. (AFP | Edgar CALDERON)