The governments of Guatemala, Mexico, and the United States are releasing rhetoric to deter the now over 1,600 Hondurans that left for their North American neighbors Saturday to escape poverty, violence and now major floods that have killed at least six people.
The U.S. embassy in Honduras said in a Sunday statement in Spanish that it was “seriously concerned” about the “false promises" given to those traveling north.
The banners of some walking migrants read: "We are migrants, we want to work."
"We are seriously concerned about the caravan of migrants traveling north from Honduras, with false promises to enter the United States, made by those who seek to exploit their compatriots," the U.S. embassy wrote.
Diplomats under President Donald Trump warned: "The United States vigorously enforces its immigration laws," harkening memories of the thousands of Central American families U.S. officials separated at the U.S.-Mexico border last April and May before sending parents to jail and throwing their kids to cages in detention centers. As of August, nearly 500 of the minors were still in U.S. custody, according to the Washington Post.
"In the words of Vice President Mike (Pence), 'Do not risk your families taking the dangerous northbound trip to try to enter the United States illegally.' If you can not legally come to the United States, you should not do so," the statement read.
"We say this with compassion, as neighbors and friends working side by side with the Honduran government, civil society, and the private sector in order to continue making progress in improving security and prosperity in this country," read the U.S. statement.
The communique added, "The situation in Honduras has improved markedly, and this trend will only continue if its citizens remain and invest their extraordinary potential here."
"If the situation in the country 'has notably improved' why does Vice President Pence denounce that illegal immigration has increased 61%...? No one flees the country because they want to, it's obligatory in the adverse circumstances in which (people). We decide our future, no one else."
The Honduran migrants, many of whom are women and their children are trying to escape the constant threat of violence in a country that registered 3,791 homicides in 2017, 10 percent of which were femicides, and extortion from gangs and drug cartels that compete to rule over neighborhoods. The caravaners are also hoping to improve their economics by leaving Honduras which has a 70 percent poverty rate and seven percent unemployment.
These statistics are in large part due to institutionalized corruption within the Honduran government that allowed the highly-irregular reelection of current President Juan Orlando Hernandez (JOH) in November 2017. Hernandez later ordered national security forces to crack down on protesters who contested the election resulting in the death of over 30 demonstrators between November and January of this year.
Today’s Honduran violence that influences migrations are also mainly due to U.S. interventionism over the past century in the country, including using Honduras as a proxy military outpost to fight Nicaraguan contras in the 1980s, tacitly supporting the 2009 coup of leftist Manuel Zelaya, and the likely-fraudulent Hernandez presidency.
Zelaya said in a tweet: "The US is legally and morally obliged to grant asylum to migrants for the state of terror and death caused by the military violence, fraud, privatization, and organized crime of the dictatorship of JOH that they sustain and support."
The caravan left Saturday night from Honduras’ most violent city, San Pedro Sula and arrived Monday in Ocotepeque, at the border with Guatemala where officials threatened to reject them.
A statement made by the Guatemalan Migration Institute (IGM) Sunday read: "Guatemala does not promote or support irregular migration in any of its forms, therefore it rejects the movements organized for illicit purposes and that distort the figure of a human right, such as migration for private purposes."
The institute went on to say that no migrant could enter the country without the proper paperwork to enter and exit Guatemala and that anyone even trying to travel through the nation would be considered doing so “for illicit purposes, altering order and national security, which violates the protection of children and adolescents … under Guatemalan and international laws."
The U.S. embassy communique added in its statement: "The government of Mexico also issued a statement reminding travelers that they must comply with the Mexican Migration Law to enter their territory."