OCOTOPEQUE, Honduras — A caravan of hundreds of Honduran migrants crossed the Guatemalan border under a broiling sun Monday hoping to make it to new lives in the United States, far from the poverty and violence of their home nation.

Singing the Honduran national anthem, praying and chanting, “Yes, we can,” the group estimated at 1,600 or more defied an order by the Guatemalan government that they not be allowed to pass. “We have rights,” the migrants shouted.

Keilin Umana, a 21-year-old who is two months pregnant, said she was moved to migrate to save herself and her unborn child after she was threatened with death.

“A letter arrived at my house saying I could not stay, that I had to leave, or else they were going to kill me,” said Umana, who is a nurse.

“I was in hiding awhile,” she said. “It’s because I have this tattoo on my hand – it’s not a gang thing. Look, it’s the name of my father and mother.”

Umana said she had been walking for four days. “We are not criminals – we are migrants,” she said.


Many in the caravan traveled light, with just backpacks and bottles of water. Some pushed toddlers in strollers or carried them on their shoulders.

Carlos Cortez, a 32-year-old farmer traveling on foot with his 7-year-old son, said the poverty back home has made it impossible to support a family.

“Every day I earn about $5,” Cortez said. “That isn’t enough to feed my family.”

The caravan was met at the border by about 100 Guatemalan police officers. After a tense standoff of about two hours, the migrants began walking again. Outnumbered, the police did nothing to stop them but merely accompanied them several miles into Guatemalan territory.

Officers later set up a roadblock about a mile outside the city of Esquipulas, where the migrants had planned to spend the night. Some police and Guatemalan civilians offered the migrants water, and some locals drove Hondurans part of the way. Red Cross workers gave medical attention to some migrants who fainted in the heat.

The caravan began as about 160 people who first gathered early Friday to depart from San Pedro Sula, one of Honduras’ most dangerous places, figuring that traveling as a group would make them less vulnerable to robbery, assault and other dangers common on the migratory path through Central America and Mexico.

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