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Guatemala Says Nicaraguan Refugees Must Have Travel Documents For March

August 21, 1985

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) _ Nicaraguan refugees trying to march to Washington to protest their country’s leftist regime will be permitted to cross Guatemala if they have the required travel documents, the government said Tuesday.

Gustavo Santizo Galvez, deputy minister of foreign relations, said the refugees must have travel visas from Mexico and the United States to march through Guatemalan territory.

″If Mexico and the United States permit the entry of the ‘Exodus’ group ... Guatemala will not put up obstacles″ to their walk, he told Boris Leets Castillo, the group’s organizer.

Some 500 Nicaraguans began their eight-month, 4,200-mile march in late July from the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa. Once in Washington, they plan to ask U.S. help in overthrowing the Sandinista government of President Daniel Ortega.

President Reagan recently signed legislation providing $27 million in non- lethal aid to rebels, called Contras, who are fighting the Sandinistas.

Leets Castillo said the refugee group is waiting in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, for permission to continue the march. He said his group has begun discussions with Mexican and U.S. consular officials ″to explain the circumstances that oblige us to travel toward Washington.″

He had said earlier that more than half the protesters did not have passports and that they were counting on the good will of Guatemala, Mexico and the United States to let them cross the borders without the proper documents.

He has vowed the marchers will stage a hunger strike if they are denied entry into the United States.

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