Hundreds of US-bound migrants made their way to Honduras in the first caravan of 2022

TEGUCIGALPA, Jan 15 (Reuters) – Hundreds of Hondurans and Nicaraguans left the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula on Saturday to march towards the United States, the first such migrant caravan formed in Central America this year.

The caravan left days before left-wing President-elect Xiomara Castro took office in Honduras on January 27. She has vowed to revitalize the economy and fight the corruption that is fueling waves of mass migration to the United States.

The migrants, mostly young people with backpacks on their shoulders and women with children, exited a bus station in the northern city of San Pedro Sula toward the Corinto border post to enter Guatemala. Some pushed children in strollers.

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“There is no work,” said Pablo Mendez, a Honduran man who was carrying his two-year-old daughter. “That’s why people are leaving with this caravan.”

Reuters video footage showed large groups of hundreds of people walking through San Pedro Sula, many crossing busy freeways on foot.

Another, smaller group of people left San Pedro Sula early in the morning for the Guatemalan border.

As of 2 p.m. local time (2000 GMT), about 100 people had entered Guatemala at an unofficial border crossing, according to Guatemala’s Migration Institute.

Many of the migrants were heading to the Corinto border crossing in Honduras. Guatemalan police and military were waiting for them on the other side, the Guatemala Institute said.

Previously, the Honduran police set up roadblocks to prevent many such caravans from reaching the border crossing. Guatemalan security forces have also clashed with groups of migrants trying to get through without documents.

The first caravan of the year comes after deep economic hardship and poverty plaguing 62% of the Honduran population, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic and two back-to-back hurricanes in 2020 that hit the economy.

In Nicaragua, political crackdowns by President Daniel Ortega’s government before and after the Nov. 7 presidential election have fueled a surge in migration.

Euclides Mendes, a Nicaraguan migrant, said the size of the caravan gave him hope the treacherous journey was safe.

“It is true that we will run a lot, but we walk and the most important thing is to get to the finish line,” Mendes added.

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Additional reporting by Sofia Menchu ​​Writing by Drazen Jorgic Editing by Marguerita Choy and Jonathan Oatis

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