Trump cranks up rhetoric as migrants and Mexican police clash

Mae Love
October 21, 2018

Thousands of people travelling across Central America en route to the United States (US) are now stuck on Mexico's southern border after a failed attempt to enter the country.

The reported green light for women and children comes after many migrants were sent back on Saturday, with Guatemalan police transporting at least 62 people in two buses.

Selvin Flores, a 35-year-old shopkeeper from the Honduran city of Nacaome, says people who "were causing disorder" have been expelled from the group and handed over to Guatemalan police.

"I don't know what happened, I thought we were going to cross peacefully and then suddenly there were rocks flying and tear gas", she told AFP.

"We are not smugglers, we are immigrants!" shouted the crowd.

"We are imprisoned here, like animals".

But the slow pace frustrated those stuck on the bridge, where conditions were hot and cramped, and some pleaded at the main gate: "Please let us in, we want to work!"

Mexican authorities later opened the gates and allowed about 15 women and children through.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto described the situation as "unprecedented".

"Mexico does not permit and will not permit entry into its territory in an irregular fashion, much less in a violent fashion", he said.

He added Mexico remains willing to support migrants who enter the country and respect its laws.

Migrants have commonly cited widespread poverty and gang violence in Honduras, one of the world's deadliest nations by homicide rate, as their reasons for joining the caravan.

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Trump has also threatened to cut foreign aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

"We want them to give us permission to go to Mexico", her 5-year-old son Ramon said in a child's voice.

"Because many of those people, a percentage, a fairly big percentage of those people are criminals and they want to come into our country and they're criminals".

The US president has made it clear to Mexico that he is monitoring its response. "Mexico!" migrants earlier climbed or tore down a series of barriers, flooding across the bridge. Mexican police in riot gear set off smoke canisters and pushed them back.

Geronimo Gutierrez, Mexico's ambassador to the US, said his country had reason to believe that the migrant caravan from Honduras was not the result of a grassroots effort but was "politically motivated".

Eric Lagos Rodriguez from Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital, and his family turned themselves over to authorities to apply.

Trump, meanwhile, escalated his threat to close the border and deploy the military to the US-Mexico border if Mexico does not stop the caravan with force.

A caravan of some 3,000 migrants fleeing Honduras is continuing to walk north to the U.S. border, as Trump threatened to deploy the military and close the U.S. -Mexico border.

Asked in the Televisa interview whether Mexico was doing Trump's "dirty work", Videgaray said Mexico "defines its migration policy in a sovereign manner" and the country's priority is to protect the migrants and ensure their human rights.

Andrew Selee of the Migration Policy Institute told the BBC that closing the border "would wreak havoc on Mexican and American economies". Without offering any sort of evidence to support his claim, Trump also called numerous people criminals.

This caravan's formation comes just weeks before high-stakes midterm elections in the United States, in which many Republican candidates have been echoing the President's messaging about boosting border security and cracking down on illegal immigration.

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