Nearly 1,000 caravan migrants start process of entering Mexico from Guatemala

Written by Maritime First

…As South Korea Interested in Opportunities with North Korean Ports***

Approximately 1,000 Central American migrants in the newest caravan have begun the process of crossing into Mexico from Guatemala, a Mexican immigration official stationed at the border between the two countries told Fox News on Thursday night.

A new process instituted by Mexico means that migrants will have to wait five days for their paperwork to be processed before entering the country. The new system is meant to keep things orderly after the last caravan rushed the border via the Suchiate River at the Guatemalan border city of Tecún Umán.

Migrants arriving at the border Thursday were given identification bracelets and directed to a Mexican immigration office, where they filled out paperwork for a one-year visa to work and travel in Mexico.

Members of the caravan are currently staying in Guatemalan shelters and camping out in a nearby park. However, officials are planning to open a shelter on the Mexican side of the border Saturday to house migrants until they are allowed to enter the country.

So far, there have been no visible confrontations like the fights marked the arrival of another Central American caravan in October, when migrants tried to push through closed gates and ranks of riot police, leading authorities to fire pepper spray. However, some caravan members have told Fox News they don’t trust the Mexican government and may try to cross the border bridge again.

Previous estimates put the caravan at about 1,800 people, including about 100 from El Salvador. But, many of the migrants were still traveling through Guatemala, and it was difficult to say how big the caravan would be once it started making its way through southern Mexico.

Julia Escalon, 43, of the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula, rested under the shade of a tree on the Guatemalan side, cradling her 2-year-old daughter in her arms. Escalon brought along a total of four daughters on the trip.

“In San Pedro, we have nowhere to live. We can’t even afford to rent a place,” Escalon told The Associated Press. “I’m going to fulfill my dream and get to the United States.”

However, that may not be easy. The border city of Tijuana was saturated by the first caravan in November, testing the patience of the city’s residents, and Mexico’s new government has since agreed to house third-country migrants while their asylum claims are heard in the United States.

In the meantime, South Korea’s Ocean Minister has announced his intention to seek out business opportunities at North Korean ports in preparation for when sanctions against Pyongyang are lifted.

News Agency Yonhap reports the Minister, Kim Young-choon, saying that it is economical to build joint industrial complexes near North Korean port cities such as Nampo, Haeju and Wonsan. He is optimistic about planned talks between North Korea and the U.S. planned for March or April this year.

The U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution on August 5, 2017, banning North Korea from exporting coal, iron, lead and other materials. Last year, the Korea Customs Service found that three South Korean companies had illegally imported North Korean coal that was transshipped at Russian ports, in violation of the United Nations resolutions. The coal was shipped from the ports of Songlim, Wonsan, Chongjin and Daean, transshipped via the Russian ports of Kholmsk, Vladivostock and Nakhodka and imported via the South Korean ports of Dangjin, Pohang, Masan, Incheon and Donghae.

South Korea is almost entirely reliant on imports to meet its fossil fuel demand, and coal is a key drivers of North Korea’s economy. The country had proved coal reserves estimated at 661 million tons in 2015. North Korea has historically been the global leader in anthracite coal exports, most of which were sent to China. North Korea has received most of its mining machinery, infrastructure, and training from China, and many of the ports and rail facilities involved in this trade are jointly owned and operated by Chinese-Korean ventures.

Reconnecting Rail Links

Last year, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in outlined plans for reconnecting the two Koreas by rail, with the vision of connecting South Korea with the Trans-China and Trans-Siberian railways. The idea is part of Moon’s “New Economic Map” for the Peninsula.

Moon hopes the Trans-Siberian railway will reach Busan, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly made the development of the Russian Far East a priority. Currently the rail link runs to Rajin, a North Korean port near the Russia border.

Fox News with additional report from Maritime Executive

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