Guatemalan police rescued 126 migrants who were abandoned inside a container on the side of a highway. They were found during the night between the cities of Nueva Concepción and Cocales, after residents reported hearing screams coming from inside the trailer.
Authorities believe these people were abandoned by smugglers who were paid to bring them to the United States via Mexico. More than 100 of the people found are from Haiti, which has been badly hit by the crisis. There were also people from Nepal and Ghana.
In an interview shortly after the discovery, a police spokesman said: “We heard screams and banging coming from inside the container. We opened the doors and found 126 people without documents.”
Police provided first aid to migrants before escorting them to a shelter run by the Guatemalan Migration Institute.
A spokeswoman for the Guatemalan immigration authority, Alejandra Mena, said migrants arrived in Central America via Honduras and from there began the treacherous journey north to the United States. They will now be transported back to the Honduran border and handed over to authorities.
The discovery came just a day after Mexican authorities detained 652 migrants. Among them, about 350 children, traveling in three refrigerated double trailer trucks near the southern border of the United States.
Soldiers at a military checkpoint in Tamaulipas searched trucks after hearing voices inside. The incident reflects growing concern about the number of migrants. Among them, a large number of Haitians, at significant risk in their attempts to reach the United States.
Since early 2021, more than 50 migrants have died trying to cross a jungle corridor called Darien Gap in Panama on the Colombian border, according to the Panamanian prosecutor.
Haiti has suffered from instability for years, culminating in the assassination of President Jouvenal Moïse in July. The following month, the country was hit by a deadly earthquake. Thousands of Haitians had already left the country in search of work in Latin American countries.
Many have begun trying to reach the United States in the belief that they qualify for Temporary Protection Status, a temporary right to stay in the country that has been extended to Haitians already living in the United States. But not to newcomers.
Last month, about 13,000 Haitians gathered under a bridge connecting Del Rio, Texas, to Ciudad Acuña, Mexico. Since then, the US has deported more than 7,500 people to Haiti, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
US special envoy to Haiti, Daniel Foote, resigned in protest against the deportations. He said the refusal of people fleeing an earthquake and political instability was “inhumane”.
But Marsha Espinosa of the US Department of Homeland Security reiterated that “our borders are not open and people must not take the dangerous journey.”
Migrants evacuated from camp at US border