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Guatemalan Forces Clash With Migrants Trying to Reach US

Other nations, including Mexico, have said they'll stop caravan from Honduras
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 17, 2021 11:35 AM CST

(Newser) – Guatemalan police and soldiers launched tear gas and wielded batons and shields against a group of Honduran migrants that tried to push through a roadblock Sunday. A group of about 2,000 migrants had stopped short of the roadblock the night before. The roadblock was strategically placed at a chokepoint on the two-lane highway to Chiquimula in an area known as Vado Hondo, flanked by a tall mountainside and a wall leaving the migrants with few options. Some 100 migrants tried to make their way through authorities around 7:30am Sunday, the AP reports. The security forces beat them back and deployed tear gas. None made it through, and the larger remaining contingent kept its distance. Some migrants were visibly injured by baton strikes. One man leaned against a wall with a bandage on his head. "They hit me in the head," he said. "I didn't come with the intention of looking for problems with anybody. We're brothers, Central Americans. We're not looking for trouble. We just want to pass."

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Guatemalan forces had blocked part of a caravan of as many as 9,000 migrants Saturday night not far from where they entered the country, seeking to reach the US border. The immigration agency distributed a video showing a couple of hundred men scuffling with soldiers, pushing and running through their lines, even as troops held hundreds more back. Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei urged Honduras "to contain the mass exit of its inhabitants." On Friday, the migrants entered Guatemala by pushing past about 2,000 police and soldiers; most did not show the negative coronavirus test Guatemala requires. Nations throughout the region have made clear they will not let the caravan pass. Mexico mounted a dissuasive campaign at its southern border, circulating videos and photos of thousands of National Guardsmen and immigration agents preparing in case the migrants cross Guatemala. Many migrants hope for a warmer reception from the administration of President-elect Joe Biden. His team has indicated it will not make immediate changes to policies at the US-Mexico border.

(Read more Guatemala stories.)

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