KEY POINTS

  • Authorities rescued the migrants after cries and knocks were heard from the container
  • Migrants were given first aid and taken to a shelter under Guatemalan Migration Institute
  • Antony Blinken warned Haitian migrants against making the dangerous trek to the U.S.

Guatemala police rescued 126 U.S.-bound migrants who were trapped inside an abandoned shipping container. 

The container was found between the towns of Nueva Concepción and Cocales in southern Guatemala. 

"We heard cries and knocks coming from inside the container. We opened the doors and found inside 126 undocumented people," said a police spokesperson, according to the BBC. The migrants were given first aid by the police, who later transported them to a shelter run by the Guatemalan Migration Institute (IGM).

Police believe that the migrants were abandoned by smugglers, who were paid to transport them to the U.S. via Mexico. Out of 126 individuals, 106 migrants were Haitians while 11 people were from Nepal and nine from Ghana. 

According to Guatemala’s migration authority spokesperson, Alejandra Mena, the migrants first traveled to Honduras before starting towards Mexico, the BBC reported. They will be returned to the Honduras border and handed over to the authorities there. 

The report comes to light after 15,000 Haitian migrants flocked under a bridge in Texas last month. The camps have since been cleared and a large number of migrants were sent back to Haiti in 17 repatriation flights. 

Migrants are still seeking ways to enter the U.S. to escape the chaos in Haiti. The insecurities stemming from gang violence, high inflation, political instability and a series of natural disasters have created turmoil in the Caribbean nation. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday cautioned Haitian migrants against trying to enter the United States. Blinken was visiting Mexico to present a new joint security plan and forge ties with the neighboring nations to act as a buffer and stem the flow of migrants heading to the U.S. 

"The journey is profoundly dangerous and it will not succeed," said Blinken at a news conference in Mexico.  "We also are trying to be very clear that if they seek to make that journey in an irregular manner, they put themselves at tremendous risk along the entire route, and they will not be able to enter the United States."

A former U.S. envoy to Haiti, Daniel Foote, said sending back migrants will only exacerbate the worsening conditions of Haiti. "Deportation, in the short term, is not going to make Haiti any more stable; in fact it’s going to make it worse," Foote said, according to Al Jazeera.

Foote resigned last month in protest of the Biden administration’s deportation of migrants. "We're not repatriating people to Afghanistan right now. And having served in both places, the security situation [in Haiti] is not that dire but it’s not far off, and we’re deporting people to Haiti," he added.

Haitian migrants cross the jungle of the Darien Gap, near Acandi, Choco department, Colombia, heading to Panama, on September 26, 2021, on their way trying to reach the US. From Acandi, they started on foot -- and armed with machetes, lanterns and tents - Haitian migrants cross the jungle of the Darien Gap, near Acandi, Choco department, Colombia, heading to Panama, on September 26, 2021, on their way trying to reach the US. From Acandi, they started on foot -- and armed with machetes, lanterns and tents -- the dangerous trek of at least five days to Panama through the Darien jungle, battling snakes, steep ravines, swollen rivers, tropical downpours and criminals often linked to drug trafficking. Photo: AFP / Raul ARBOLEDA