Guatemalan security forces have used sticks and tear gas to beat back a large migrant caravan bound for the United States.

Key points:

  • Guatemalan security officers stopped the migrants from advancing beyond Vado Hondo
  • Authorities sent buses and trucks for migrants who wanted to voluntarily return home
  • Guatemalan authorities say 12 men and 9 women of the caravan tested positive for COVID
A new caravan of migrants set head to the United States, rest on the road in Vado Hondo.

Between 7,000 and 8,000 migrants, including families with young children, have entered Guatemala since Friday, authorities say.

A large number of the migrants from Honduras have fled poverty and violence in a region hammered by the coronavirus pandemic and back-to-back hurricanes in November.

“Guatemala’s message is loud and clear: These types of illegal mass movements [of people] will not be accepted, that’s why we are working together with the neighbouring nations to address this as a regional issue,” the Guatemalan President’s office said in emailed comments.

Many clashed with Guatemalan security officials, some 3,000 of whom had mustered by the village of Vado Hondo, about 55 kilometres from the borders of Honduras and El Salvador.

“We want the Guatemalans to let us past,” said Joaquin Ortiz, a Honduran in the caravan.

“Because we’re not leaving here. We’re going to carry on. I want to get through because it’s horrible in our country. There’s nothing in Honduras.”