Tegucigalpa (AFP) – Honduras said Tuesday it was “unpleasantly surprised” by a tweeted threat US President Donald Trump made about suspending aid to the poor country over a “caravan” of Central American migrants headed to the US border.
“We are unpleasantly surprised by this allusion to our country. We reject it utterly because it is not certain that there is a caravan of Hondurans,” the minister in charge of cabinet executive affairs, Ebal Diaz, said in a statement sent to AFP.
Trump on Monday tweeted that “Honduras, Mexico and many other countries that the U.S. is very generous to, sends many of their people to our country through our WEAK IMMIGRATION POLICIES. Caravans are heading here. Must pass tough laws and build the WALL.”
He followed up on Tuesday with another tweet reading: “The big Caravan of People from Honduras, now coming across Mexico and heading to our ‘Weak Laws’ Border, had better be stopped before it gets there. Cash cow NAFTA is in play, as is foreign aid to Honduras and the countries that allow this to happen. Congress MUST ACT NOW!”
An estimated 1,500 people from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras are walking north towards the US border in an annual event that was both a protest over conditions faced by migrants and as a way for migrants to safely reach the border.
Trump has accused Mexico of abetting and profiting from illegal immigration, and is threatening to use negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement as a bargaining chip on the issue.
Diaz accused Trump of using Honduras “to pressure the (US) Congress to approve reforms on migration law.”
“Honduras is the country that has done the most to create suitable conditions so that our compatriots do not leave the country,” Diaz added.
He said Honduras has also made progress on fighting crime and the conditions that spur emigration.
“Unfortunately, as long as the United States does not stop and does not really do things to stop drug consumption, violence will keep affecting those countries” on drug trafficking routes to America, Diaz said.
According to the Honduran government, violence linked to cocaine trafficking from South America to the US market is one of the biggest causes of people wanting to leave the country.