At the Honduras-Nicaragua border
Hello from Tegucigalpa. We’re just back from a couple of days in the Honduras-Nicaragua border zone, in the department of El Paraíso. An extraordinary number of migrants are passing through this zone right now, most of them after passing through the Darién Gap and Nicaragua.
Here are a few photos.
Waiting for documents
The Honduran government’s “Center for Attention to Irregular Migrants” earlier today in Danlí. Large numbers of people from all over the world wait here for a document that allows them to remain in the country for five days. Honduras doesn’t deport or (except in rare cases) detain migrants, but it is impossible to board a bus to Guatemala without this document. The Danlí center has been processing a few hundred people per day, but the number was over 1,000 per day this weekend. This was the most people migrating that I’ve ever seen in one place at the same time.
Honduras was charging a steep fee (over US$200) for this travel document, but the current government has declared an amnesty, so the process is free. That keeps most from turning to organized crime to smuggle them through the country. To get the document, everyone must fill out a form and register biometric data. This is shared with databases of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which wants awareness of who is coming and whether they pose any potential threats.
In Trojes, right on the border, the Honduran migration office is closed over the weekend. People are lining up to get their travel documents, sleeping in a row of tents alongside the building, trying to avoid the broiling heat, waiting for it to reopen.
For those with travel documents, the most frequent route through Honduras right now leads to the border with Guatemala in Agua Caliente, Ocotepeque, near Esquipulas, Guatemala. It’s a 12-16 hour trip. A bus company employee told me that about 20-25 buses per day are leaving Danlí right now for Agua Caliente, with about 50 migrants aboard each, with each migrant paying US$50.
The bus company employee outside the terminal said $50 to go to Agua Caliente, but the sign inside the terminal says $37. 🤷🏼♂️
Police check migrants’ documents at a checkpoint between Trojes and Danlí.
Peering into Nicaragua from the Las Manos border crossing. (Note the red and black Sandinista Front flags, and the absence of blue and white Nicaraguan flags.)
When migrants arrive in Trojes from Nicaragua, they usually do so at this gap in a fence along the border, near the customs post. Four Venezuelan men arrived during the few minutes that we stopped by here.
A multilingual “know your rights” sign a couple of hundred yards from that gap in the fence.
A Center for Attention to Irregular Migrants in Trojes, run by LIFE Honduras, a consortium of humanitarian organizations with Unicef support.
Signage at a new shelter in El Paraíso run by the Fundación Alivio del Sufrimiento, a church-based organization that is a member of the Consortium.
Left to right: WOLA Program Assistant Ana Lucía Verduzco, WOLA VP for Programs Maureen Meyer, me, and Stívenson Amador, projects coordinator at the Fundación Alivio del Sufrimiento.