Guatemalan Riot Police Halt Caravan, for Now

By Todd Bensman on January 17, 2021

[This is an update of this morning's post, which is archived here.]

Guatemalan riot police appear to have – for the time being – halted an enormous U.S.-bound migrant caravan that previously defeated Honduran police, as soldiers beat back forcibly surging migrants with clubs and tear gas.



As of Sunday evening, at least 6,000 migrants remained trapped before a multi-layered cordon of Guatemalan security forces in the state of Chiquimula town of Vado Hondo, which borders Honduras. Many could be seen hurling rocks and debris at the soldiers.



Unless or until Guatemala begins to deport more back to Honduras to join the estimated 1,000 already sent home, it seems likely the travelers will attempt to break through again or maneuver around the troops.

But if or when they ever do, the migrants face 20 more police roadblocks across Guatemala to reach the Mexican border, which also has been reinforced by hundreds of Mexican soldiers and unarmed agents of the Mexican immigration service.

It seems unlikely the caravan would survive all of this, at least as a large cohesive force, if it did reach Mexico because almost all north-south highways in the southern Mexican provinces that border Guatemala are layered in defense by national guard roadblocks.

However, human rights groups and pro-illegal-immigration advocates have raised a significant outcry over the use of force to stop the caravan. That such criticism might influence the governments to stand down remains a prospect, albeit an unlikely one at this time.

In Mexico, resolve to hold the line remained high Sunday. Commander of the 36th Military Zone of Tapachula, General Vicente Antonio Hernández Sánchez, told Mexican media the caravanners would not get through the troops.

"We have to guarantee in our national territory, an orderly, safe and regular migration, with respect for human rights and with humanitarian policies," he said.

Commander Sanchez also called out "cynics, opportunists, and social hitmen" who "promote irregular migration" as a way to support "their way of life."