On October 21 a large group of Honduran migrants has reportedly clashed with Mexican border police on a bridge through the Suchiate River, connecting the Guatemalan city of Tecun Uman and the Mexican city of Tapachula. The migrants overwhelmed security agents as they continue to make their way to Mexico in an attempt to cross through the country and enter into the U.S. The caravan started in Juan Pedro Sula, Honduras on October 13 with fewer than 200 people, and has reportedly grown up to 4,000 individuals. Honduran authorities have reportedly urged citizens not to cross the border to Guatemala, or to take part in attempts to enter the U.S. illegally. In turn, on October 16 American President Donald Trump announced through Twitter that unless Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador stopped the flow of migrants to the U.S. he would consider ending all financial aid to these countries. During a state visit to Mexico, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed on October 19 that Mexican authorities have to act and decide how to handle the situation before migrants approach the U.S. border.
The migrant caravan currently heading toward the U.S. is by no means unprecedented, and the deterioration of security and overall living conditions in Central American countries is likely to prompt further waves of migrants. Juan Pedro Sula is particularly known for being one of the most violent cities in the world and a stronghold in the region for armed gangs and drug traffickers. In this regard, by marching in large groups migrants feel protected from criminals who are known to assault passersby along routes used by migrants. The threat posed by U.S. President Trump to Honduras and other countries is unlikely to deter migrants from marching toward north, despite the risks entailed with crossing countries. While Mexican authorities might attempt to install stringent border controls with Guatemala, outgoing President Enrique Peña Nieto is unlikely to adopt strong measures to deport migrants who have already crossed into Mexico, especially given that his term is slated to end on December 1. Notwithstanding U.S. aid to Guatemala and Honduras, it is unclear whether these countries have the resources or political will to halt the flow of migrants toward the north.