Hundreds of Central Americans from a new migrant caravan tried to force their way into Mexico on Monday (Jan 20) by crossing the river that divides the country from Guatemala, prompting the National Guard to fire tear gas.
|Central American migrants - mostly Hondurans, travelling on caravan to the US- cross the Suichate River, the natural border between Tecum Uman, Guatemala and Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico. (AFP/Johan ORDONEZ, Johan ORDONEZ) |
The Central Americans, from the so-called "2020 Caravan" of around 3,500 undocumented migrants, gathered on the Guatemalan side of the Suchiate River at dawn, demanding migration authorities let them continue their journey to the United States.
When authorities did not immediately respond, the migrants began fording the river, which is shallow this time of year.
Mexican troops fired tear gas in an attempt to force them back. Scores of migrants, many with cloths tied around their faces to protect them from the tear gas, pelted the military police guarding the river with large stones, as the latter sheltered behind riot shields.
"Let us through! Put your hands on your hearts," shouted a Honduran migrant named Jorge, who was travelling with his wife and two young children.
"They're trying to trick us. They tell us to register (with the authorities), but then they deport us," said another migrant, Tania, who has been with the caravan since it formed last week in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, around 650 kilometres away.
"We got desperate because of the heat. It's been exhausting, especially for the children," Honduran migrant Elvis Martinez, 33, told AFP on the Guatemalan side of the border as he prepared to ford the river.
"I'm asking (Mexican President Andres Manuel) Lopez Obrador to consider his conscience" and let the migrants through, he added.
But Lopez Obrador's government faces intense pressure to do just the opposite from President Donald Trump, who last year threatened to impose steep tariffs on Mexico if it did not do more to stop a surge of undocumented Central Americans arriving at the US-Mexican border.