April 3, 2018 / 5:59 PM / 6 months ago

Honduras strikes back at Trump's threat over migrant 'caravan'

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - A top Honduran official on Tuesday rejected President Donald Trump’s threat to cut U.S. foreign aid unless a so-called caravan of more than 1,000 Central American migrants headed to the U.S. border with Mexico is stopped.

FILE PHOTO - U.S. President Donald Trump speaks while hosting Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, and Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis for the Baltic Summit at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., April 3, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

“We don’t know what President Trump is talking about when he says that Honduras doesn’t do anything” to stop illegal immigration, presidential spokesman Ebal Diaz said on a local TV programme.

“I think he is not well informed, I think he is unfairly using Honduras in a political debate he has with the U.S. Congress,” Diaz said, adding that Honduras deserved respect.

Trump threatened in a Twitter post on Tuesday to cut off aid to Honduras in his latest criticism of the migrant caravan that set off from Mexico’s southern border with Central America late last month.

The U.S. president has stepped up his immigration rhetoric in recent days and his administration has moved to further crack down on people who are in the United States illegally.

“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!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Organised caravans of predominantly Central American migrants, including many escaping drug and gang-related violence in Honduras, have crossed Mexico since 2010, according to Mexico’s government.

“The causes of immigration are violence, drug violence, drug trafficking. What has President Trump done to reduce the demand for the drugs that enters that market (in the United States) that generates violence in our country?,” said Diaz.

Honduras’ murder rate has been falling steadily in recent years, after hitting 85.5 murders per 100,000 people in 2011. Nonetheless, Honduras remains one of the world’s deadliest peacetime nations.

“We appreciate the help from the United States but we deserve respect as a nation ... Honduras will continue to grow, with or without the support of President Trump,” said Diaz.

Reporting by Gustavo Palencia; Writing by Anthony Esposito and Tom Brown

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