EL FLORIDO – A once large caravan of Honduran migrants that pushed its way into Guatemala last week had dissipated by Tuesday in the face of Guatemalan security forces. Small groups pressed on toward the Mexican border, while others accepted rides from authorities back to Honduras.
Many of the migrants were driven by an increasingly desperate situation in Honduras, where the economic ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic and two major hurricanes in November have piled atop chronic poverty and gang violence. That combined with a hope that the new U.S. administration of President-elect Joe Biden would be more welcoming gave birth to the year's first caravan.
But Tuesday, buses carrying dozens of migrants and police patrol vehicles carrying handfuls arrived sporadically through the morning at the Guatemala-Honduras border crossing of El Florido. They were passed from Guatemalan border agents to their Honduran counterparts and then boarded buses that would take them back to their hometowns.
Some 25 miles into Guatemala where hundreds of migrants had been stalled at a roadblock in Vado Hondo for several days, traffic flowed smoothly Tuesday and few migrants remained. Guatemala's immigration authorities reported that through Monday more than 2,300 migrants had been returned to Honduras.
Carlos Hernandez, a 29-year-old shoemaker from Honduras, sat on the roadside unable to move forward and without any reason to go back.
“I lost everything, children, house, everything,” Hernández said through tears in reference to the hurricanes. “Everyone died there, I don’t have anything. Who am I going to return to?”
Eber Sosa, an 18-year-old, bricklayer, expressed the hope of many that something would change with the new U.S. administration.
“Now that the new president (Biden) is here we are waiting for the answer, all of us immigrants who are here from Honduras," Sosa said. "We are looking to see what the new president says to move forward.”