In recent months the COVID-19 Pandemic, along with the subsequent impact of Hurricanes Eta and Iota on the region, exacerbated the economic and labor crises affecting the Central American countries. Then the change of administration in the United States created among the migrant population expectations of more flexible migration policies.
On 19 March 2021 the Mexican Government ordered the closure of its southern borders (with Guatemala and Belize) to non-essential activities for one month, to prevent propagation of the new SARS-CoV-2 strain. On 29 March 2021, the Guatemalan Government declared a State of Prevention in the border Departments of Izabal, Zacapa, Chiquimula, El Progreso, and Petén in order to address the passage of migrant caravans from Honduras, under the justification of promoting order and governability and ensuring the security of the Guatemalan inhabitants.
After the containment and dispersion of the migrant caravan in Guatemala in January 2021, and in light of Mexican policy, the migration modalities and routes have varied in the region, with massive caravans being abandoned in favor of transit by smaller groups. For example, on 30 March another caravan set out with a smaller number of persons (around 300 migrants). This caravan headed for the United States was dispersed along the way by police roadblocks, and very few people succeeded in crossing the border by way of unofficial crossing points.
Finally, according to data from the Guatemalan Migration Institute (IGM), between January and March 2021 fewer people were returned by air from the United States to the Guatemalan Air Force Reception Center. However, the number of returnees arriving by land from Mexico to the Reception Center in Tecún Umán, San Marcos, Guatemala, increased.