Migrant caravan: 4,000 trekking towards US border
Donald Trump threatens to halt humanitarian aid to Central America unless Hondurans fleeing violence are stopped
Donald Trump has threatened to cut aid to Central America and close his country’s border with Mexico if a caravan of Honduran migrants marching toward the US is not turned back.
Around 4,000 people have fled ongoing violence in Honduras, where “gangs exercise widespread control in certain neighborhoods”, The New York Times reports. A political crisis in the wake of last year’s elections also led to thousands of arrests and a number of deaths.
Denis Contreras, who is fleeing Honduras with his sister and two nieces, told France24 that his nation’s people could “no longer endure so much violence”, adding that “this is the beginning of an avalanche that is coming”.
The migrants have already crossed into Guatemala, after forcing their way “past approximately 100 Guatemalan police at the border” with Honduras, and are heading northwards towards Mexico, reports USA Today.
The Guardian reports that Mexican authorities have sent “two planeloads of federal forces to the border city of Tapachula, some of the operatives equipped with riot gear”, in a bid to stop the group from reaching the Guatemala-Mexico border.
Meanwhile, in a tweet today, the US president threatened to cut US humanitarian aid to Honduras if the caravan was allowed to arrive at the border.
However, as USA Today notes, it is “not entirely clear” what Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez can do to turn the migrants back now that they are on Guatemalan soil.
Trump later posted another tweet demanding action from Mexican authorities.
Vice President Mike Pence also published a tweet about the situation, saying that he had spoken with President Hernandez and Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, and implying that aid might also be stopped to the latter’s nation unless the migrants were stopped.
CNN reports that the issue has created serious friction in the West Wing, with White House chief of staff John Kelly and national security advisor John Bolton getting into a “shouting match” yesterday over Bolton’s “harder line” approach to the issue.
This may not be the first time President Donald Trump “has used an organised group of Central American refugees heading to the US to drum up support for his border security and immigration policies”, says the BBCs Anthony Zurcher.
However, with the mid-term elections 18 days away, “the stakes are higher and the rhetoric is sharper”.