The “preventive state” restricts unauthorized outdoor gatherings and demonstrations along the border with Honduras.
Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei on Monday declared a “state of prevention” along the country’s border with Honduras, amid reports that a new caravan of migrants is forming in Honduras.
The emergency decree would restrict outdoor gatherings and demonstrations without a permit and will remain in effect for two weeks in the five Guatemalan provinces along the border with Honduras.
The government justified the restrictions in a statement, saying “groups of people could endanger the life, liberty, security, health, access to justice, peace and development” of Guatemalans.
Several hundred Hondurans left for the Guatemalan border on Tuesday seeking to reach the United States to escape the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and natural disasters, according to a witness from the Reuters news agency and local information.
The caravan of migrants in Honduras, mostly young adults with backpacks and women carrying children, started walking in the early morning from a bus station in the northern town of San Pedro Sula to the town of Corinto at the Guatemalan border.
“You have to take risks to have a better life in America; in Honduras we are never going to do anything, ”migrant Carlos Flores told a local television station. “Here you can hardly eat with what you earn, if you can even find work.”
Guatemala issued a similar decree in January to prevent a previous caravan, arguing that it posed a risk to public health amid the coronavirus pandemic.
During the previous attempt to January, Guatemalan police and soldiers launched tear gas and batons and armed shields to stop a group of about 2,000 Honduran migrants at a roadblock.
Several caravans of mainly Honduran migrants attempted to cross Guatemala and Mexico to reach the US border, but none have succeeded since 2019.
Central Americans have made up most of the surge in the number of migrants trying to reach the United States via Mexico in recent weeks, putting pressure on US President Joe Biden. The crisis includes the arrival of thousands of unaccompanied children who have crossed the US-Mexico border.
U.S. officials reported more than 100,000 encounters at the southern border in February, the highest in a four-month streak in 2019.