The Latest: Trump expands aid threat over migrant caravan
ESQUIPULAS, Guatemala (AP) — The latest on a caravan of Central American migrants hoping to reach the United States (all times local):
U.S. President Donald Trump has taken to Twitter again to warn Central American countries they could lose aid if they don’t stop migrants heading to the United States.
Late Tuesday, the president tweeted: “We have today informed the countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador that if they allow their citizens, or others, to journey through their borders and up to the United States, with the intention of entering our country illegally, all payments made to them will STOP (END)!”
Earlier in the day, Trump aimed a tweet warning Honduras about its U.S. aid over a group of 2,000 or so Hondurans who have banded together to move as a caravan in hopes of reaching the U.S.
Trump did not follow through on a similar threat to Honduras in April over an earlier migrant caravan, which eventually petered out in Mexico.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has now spoken with Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales about the caravan of Honduran migrants traveling through Guatemala with a goal of reaching the United States.
Pence tweeted Tuesday evening that he had “made clear our borders & sovereignty must be maintained.”
He adds: “We expect our partners to do all they can to assist & appreciate their support.”
Pence concluded that he reiterated President Donald Trump’s warning that future aid is contingent on the caravan being stopped.
Earlier in the day, Pence talked with Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez about the matter. But by that time the migrants had already crossed into Guatemala.
The government of Honduras is urging participants in a 2,000-strong migrant caravan heading toward the United States not to let themselves be used politically and not to risk their lives taking the journey.
A statement from the Foreign Ministry refers to the caravan as an “irregular mobilization” that is “obviously political and seeks to upset governability, stability and peace in Honduras and the United States.”
It accuses unidentified “political sectors” of organizing the caravan with “false promises” of a transit visa through Mexico and the opportunity to seek asylum in the United States.
The statement warns of the dangers of the migrant route: hunger, extreme temperatures, fatigue, illness and exposure to human traffickers and organized crime gangs.
The migrants are well aware of those dangers and hope traveling en masse will limit the risks.
U.S. President Donald Trump warned Honduras earlier in the day to stop the caravan or Washington would end U.S. aid to the country. However, the migrants are already on Guatemalan territory, so Honduras’ options are limited.
Guatemalan authorities have detained a former Honduran lawmaker traveling with a migrant caravan that is heading toward the United States and that drew a tweet from U.S. President Donald Trump threatening to suspend aid to Honduras.
An official with Guatemala’s migration agency confirms the detention of ex-legislator Bartolo Fuentes along with two other people, Wilmer Simon Gomez and Michael Fajardo. The men were detained for not having registered with migration officials on entering the country.
Fuentes was to be taken to a migrant shelter in Guatemala’s capital and then deported.
The official agreed to confirm the detention only if not quoted by name because she was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
Guatemala has also closed migration facilities at the border crossing at Agua Caliente to prevent the entry of other Hondurans.
—Associated Press writer Sonia Perez D.
The caravan of Honduran migrants traveling through Guatemala toward the United States has dispersed somewhat over the course of the day.
It’s splintered into groups as some walk faster while others fall off the pace.
Most appear to be in their 20s. Among them is Nery Jose Maldonado Tejada, a 29-year-old from San Pedro Sula.
Maldonado says he lost both feet in June 2015 in an accident on the train known as “the beast,” which migrants historically rode northward through Mexico.
On Tuesday he was being pushed in a wheelchair by a friend, with his lower legs wrapped in bandages and a green duffel on his lap.
Maldonado said he hoped to get prostheses for both feet in the United States so he will be able to walk again and even work.
As he said: “My hands are still good.”
An estimated 2,000 or so migrants are in the caravan. U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to cut off aid to Honduras if it doesn’t stop it.
A caravan of about 2,000 Honduran migrants has resumed its northward march with hopes of reaching the U.S. border.
After sleeping on the ground in their clothes, the migrants were up shortly after dawn Tuesday in the Guatemalan city of Esquipulas.
Dozens attended Mass at the local Roman Catholic basilica to receive a blessing.
Feet swollen and aching, they continued the journey escorted by Guatemalan police.
Sixteen-year-old Karla Maldonado said she joined her cousin in the caravan to seek a better life.
Twenty-year-old Carlos Reyes said he was fleeing after men tried to kill him a week ago for being gay.
Earlier Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to cut aid to Honduras if it doesn’t stop the caravan.
U.S. President Donald Trump is threatening to cut aid to Honduras if it doesn’t stop a migrant caravan heading for the U.S.
Trump did not follow through on a similar threat to the Central American nation in April over an earlier caravan, which eventually petered out.
Honduras’ ability to stop the new caravan may be limited because it has already moved into Guatemala, where the hundreds of people fleeing poverty and violence in their homeland spent Monday night after authorities failed to halt their advance.
Mexican authorities have warned that only those migrants meeting requirements will be allowed to cross their border with Guatemala.
Trump says “The United States has strongly informed the President of Honduras that if the large Caravan of people heading to the U.S. is not stopped and brought back to Honduras, no more money or aid will be given to Honduras, effective immediately!”