Sofia Menchu and Gustavo Palencia, Reuters, October 1, 2020
Guatemala invoked special measures for security forces on Thursday, after thousands of Central American migrants crossed the border without authorization as part of a caravan aiming to reach the United States.
President Alejandro Giammattei’s declaration gives security forces additional powers to disperse public gatherings in six of Guatemala’s departments, as more Central American migrants are expected to try to enter the country in the coming days.
On Thursday morning, more than 2,000 caravan members, many wearing face masks, barged past armed Guatemalan troops at the border, as they sought to escape poverty exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re talking about a caravan in the middle of a pandemic. The situation is complicated because they broke the health protocols and we don’t know who has entered (the country),” said Guatemala’s migration director Guillermo Díaz.
The caravan is the biggest since the coronavirus pandemic hit Central America in March, triggering strict government shutdowns that battered already precarious economies, leading to rises in unemployment and poverty.