A caravan of Honduran migrants were stopped by the region's security forces, denying an estimated 8,000 Hondurans an opportunity to make a northbound run for the US border in the hopes that the Biden administration would welcome them with open arms.
The caravan was repelled by a coordinated, multi-national military operation which included Honudran forces, according to Reuters. Guatemalan security sent who sent over 4,500 Hondurans - including more than 600 children, back to Honduras over the last week.
According to the report, the migrants are blaming Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, who has also come under fire from US prosecutors over accusations of links to drug cartels. Angry caravan participants will be holding a protest at the capital Tegucigalpa on Friday.
Among them was 18-year-old Isaac Portillo, who said he felt so desperate upon his forced return to Honduras that he contemplated suicide.
Like other returned migrants, Portillo’s despair quickly turned to anger. He plans to join a march on the capital Tegucigalpa on Friday – only one week after he tried to flee his shattered country.
“We’re going to oust this narco-dictator,” he said. “I already have my group ready.” -Reuters
Earlier this month, US prosecutors accused Hernandez of taking bribes from drug traffickers, which comes after his brother was convicted of drug trafficking last year in a US court.
Hernandez claims the accusations have originated from drug traffickers who are angry at his government's recent crackdown on criminal networks.
The protesters aren't buying it, however, and have been using social media such as WhatsApp, Telegram and Facebook to call for Hernandez's ouster.
The angst over the caravan comes amid a perfect storm of a pandemic-driven economic contraction, and what many are calling a poor government response to back-to-back hurricanes in November that caused nearly $2 billion in damages - forcing more than 90,000 people to evacuate to emergency storm shelters.
"All I wanted to do was find work (abroad) so I could help my family and put my little sister back in school," said the 18-year-old Portillo, who says his family received zero support from the government after the hurricanes.
His father had already lost his job as a security guard when pandemic-related restrictions devastated the economy and his 14-year-old sister had to abandon her studies as the family sank deeper into poverty.
After being deported by Guatemalan authorities this week, Portillo once again found himself living under the bridge where he and his family sought refuge after their home was destroyed in November’s floods. After he said the government threatened to evict them, the family fled again, this time to a relative’s home. -Reuters
According to Tonatiuh Guillen, the former head of Mexico's immigration institute, suggested that ongoing frustration over the stoppage of caravans could boil over.
"It's a pressure cooker."