Guatemalans block highway transit as migrants trek to U.S. on foot

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MAZATENANGO, Guatemala — Thousands of Guatemalans are blockading highways to protest government attempts to reverse a democratic presidential election, leaving roadways open for only the most determined travelers: migrants trekking on foot to the Mexican border.

Protestors, led by indigenous groups, have been demonstrating peacefully for eight straight days and calling for the government to respect Bernardo Arévalo’s landslide win as the country plunges deeper into a political crisis that could threaten U.S. interests in slowing migration through the region.

The Biden administration has said it “stands with those seeking to safeguard democracy and rule of law in Guatemala” and decried “anti-democratic behavior” after the Guatemalan government raided election offices and suspended the president-elect’s political party, Movimiento Semilla.

The administration is counting on Arévalo to be a key partner in addressing the root causes of migration through the region.

Indigenous women from San Sebastian perform a ritual on the Castillo de Armas bridge where a blockade was set as part of a national protest in Guatemala on Oct. 8, 2023.

Thousands are arriving at the Texas border, seeking asylum despite the Biden administration’s attempts to encourage migrants to make appointments via the CBP One app. In El Paso, Border Patrol has processed and released between 8,000 and 9,000 migrants each of the past four weeks, according to El Paso’s migrant situational awareness dashboard.

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