At least 9,000 migrants from Honduras crossed into Guatemala on Saturday in a caravan that began one day earlier, hoping to reach the United States in the early days of new administration.
Initially, police at checkpoints set up along the highway in both Honduras and Guatemala asked for identification documents but made no attempt to stop the migrants.
On Saturday, however, Guatemalan soldiers blocked part of the migrant caravan close to a point of entry on a highway in Chiquimula, near the Honduras border.
The Guatemalan government issued a statement calling on Honduran authorities to "contain the massive departure of its inhabitants, through permanent preventive actions."
Traveling on foot, the migrants say they are willing to brave a journey of thousands of kilometers through Guatemala and Mexico to reach the U.S., escaping poverty, unemployment, gang and drug violence, and natural disasters in their country.
This, the first migrant caravan from a Central America country this year, includes women and young children. Coming less than a week before U.S. President-elect Joe Biden takes office, the migrants apparently hope that the new administration with be more sympathetic than the Trump administration to their plea for a better life.
Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico have said they are collectively taking security and public health measures due to COVID-19 pandemic to prevent unauthorized border crossings.
Mexican officials said Thursday, they had discussed migration with Biden's nominee for national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, and raised "the possibility of implementing a cooperation program for the development of northern Central America and southern Mexico, in response to the economic crisis caused by the pandemic and the recent hurricanes in the region."
Last month, Honduran authorities stopped a caravan before it even reached the Guatemalan border. Last year, other caravans were broken up by Guatemala's authorities before reaching Mexico.