Honduran migrants moving again towards United States
MORE than 2,000 Honduran migrants traveling en masse through Guatemala resumed their journey toward the United States on Wednesday as US President Donald Trump sought to turn the caravan into a political issue three weeks before midterm elections.
A day after warning Central American governments they risk losing US aid if they don’t do something and saying that anyone entering the US illegally would be arrested and deported, Trump turned his sights on Democrats and urged Republican allies to campaign on border security.
“Hard to believe that with thousands of people from South of the Border, walking unimpeded toward our country in the form of large Caravans, that the Democrats won’t approve legislation that will allow laws for the protection of our country. Great Midterm issue for Republicans!” Trump said in a Wednesday morning tweet.
“Republicans must make the horrendous, weak and outdated immigration laws, and the Border, a part of the Midterms!” he continued.
In Guatemala, the migrants rose early and many left without eating breakfast, bound for Zacapa, the next city on their route. Overcast skies and a light drizzle took the edge off the sweltering heat and humidity, making the trek more bearable.
Luis Navarreto, a 32-year-old migrant in the caravan, said he had read about Trump’s threats to his country but was undeterred.
“We are going to continue,” Navarreto said. “It is God who decides here. We have no other option but to move ahead.”
The migrants are fleeing widespread poverty and gangland violence in one of the world’s most murderous countries, and many blame Honduran President Juan O lando Hernandez for what they call unlivable conditions back home.
“We are here because of Juan Orlando,” said Nelson Zavala, a 36-year-old laborer.
The previous day the migrants advanced about 30 miles (40 kilometers) from the Honduras-guatemala border to arrive at the city of Chiquimula.
That is a tiny portion of the almost 1,350 miles (2,200 kilometers) they would have to travel to reach the closest U.S. border.
Some were able to hitch rides, packing the flatbeds of pickups and farm trucks, and even cargo holds of semis, while many more continued on foot with backpacks, strollers and Honduran flags. Hundreds advanced farther and faster than the main group to reach the Guatemalan capital, according to the Casa del Migrante shelter there.
The caravan has snowballed since about 160 migrants departed Friday from the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula, with many people joining spontaneously while carrying just a few belongings. Estimates of their numbers ranged up to 3,000.
Three weeks before the U.S. elections, the caravan was bound to draw Trump’s ire. But he did not follow through on a similar threat to cut aid to Honduras in April over an earlier caravan, which eventually petered out in Mexico.
On Tuesday, Honduras’ president accused unnamed “political groups” organizing the caravan based on lies in order to cause problems in Honduras.
“There are sectors that want to destabilize the country, but we will be decisive and we will not allow it,” Hernandez told reporters.
Earlier the Foreign Ministry alleged that people had been lured to join the migration with “false promises” of a transit visa through Mexico and the opportunity to seek asylum in the United States.
In a joint statement Wednesday, Mexico’s Foreign Relations and Interior departments said anyone in the caravan with travel documents and a proper visa will be allowed to enter, and anyone who wants to apply for refugee status can do so.
But the statement said all cases must be processed individually, suggesting that authorities have no intention of letting the migrants simply cross the border en masse without going through standard immigration procedures.
It warned that anyone who enters Mexico in an “irregular manner” faces detention and deportation. – AP SATSUKI Katayama, the only female minister in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet, denied Thursday a report in a weekly magazine that she accepted money from the owner of a manufacturing company in return for help lobbying tax authorities.
The regional revitalization minister told reporters the Shukan Bunshun article contains factual errors and she is preparing to file a libel suit.
The magazine said the owner paid 1 million yen ($8,900) to Hiroji Namura, one of her secretaries, in July 2015 requesting that tax authorities be lobbied for special treatment on the company’s behalf.
But Katayama’s office told the Shukan Bunshun that Namura had quit in May that year and the lawmaker introduced him to the owner as a tax accountant friend.
Katayama, a 59-year-old former elite Finance Ministry bureaucrat, obtained her first ministerial post in the Cabinet reshuffle last month. She doubles as minister in charge of women’s empowerment.
The magazine, renowned for its reporting on political scandals, quoted the owner of the company as saying that Katayama called a regional taxation bureau chief during a September 2015 meeting, but her call went unanswered.
The owner said Katayama claimed the bureau chief was her junior when she worked at the Finance Ministry.
Although Katayama’s request to give the company owner special treatment did not bear fruit, Namura told the owner that the money had passed into the lawmaker’s hands, according to the report. Her office denies she received the money.
Katayama first entered politics as a House of Representatives member in 2005, but lost her seat in the 2009 lower house election.
She turned to the House of Councillors in 2010 and was re-elected in 2016.