MEXICO CITY: Several hundred migrants, including many children, headed north from near Mexico's border with Guatemala on Saturday hoping to reach the U.S., but Mexican security forces dispersed the group several hours later.
About 300 Haitians, Cubans and Central Americans set out on foot from the town of Tapachula, and a few hundred more migrants joined in as the walk progressed.
After about eight hours, they passed through an immigration checkpoint without problems, but then National Guard troops in riot gear blocked their way as a heavy rain fell. Some of the migrants were arrested while others eluded capture and kept heading north. By Saturday night about 200 had arrived the town of Huixtla, said Rev. Heyman Vazquez, a priest who works with migrants.
Immigration agents also helped break up the group. An Associated Press journalist saw one immigration agent kick a migrant who was already immobilized and on the ground.
The Collective of Monitoring and Documentation of Human Rights of the Southeast, which is a coalition of groups that work with migrants, said some people were injured though it gave no numbers. It said the detained migrants had been loaded on buses and driven away.
The flow of migrants from Central America has increased since the beginning of the year and in recent days despair had grown especially among the Haitian community stranded in Tapachula. This week they began to demonstrate seeking to speed up their immigration procedures and threatened to leave in a caravan if Mexican officials did not pay attention to them.
The group that started out Saturday was the biggest one this year and recalled the caravans that occurred in Mexico before the pandemic and the big formation that tried to leave Honduras in January but that was blocked from crossing Guatemala.
The Mexican government has insisted this week that it will continue with its policy of containing migrants. Defense Secretary Luis Cresencio Sandoval said Friday that the main goal of the deployment of the army, navy and National Guard is to “stop all migration.” He said more than 14,000 military and National Guard personnel are deployed in Mexico's south.