Q24N – The Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, promised this Monday to the President of Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei, more help to Central America to address the causes of illegal migration to the north.
Harris, who is leading the Joe Biden administration’s efforts to address the influx of migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to the US-Mexico border, met with Giammattei by videoconference, prior to her visit to Central America scheduled for June.
“The United States plans to increase aid to the region, strengthen our cooperation to manage migration in an effective, safe and humane way,” Harris told Giammattei.
Biden asked Congress for US$861 million to address the causes that drive illegal immigration from Central America, within the framework of his US$4 billion plan for the region. His proposal is included in the budget project for next year that has yet to be discussed and approved by legislators.
“We want to work with you to address both the acute causes and the root causes [of migration] in a way that gives hope to the people of Guatemala that there will be an opportunity for them if they stay home,” Harris said.
More than 172,000 undocumented immigrants, including nearly 19,000 unaccompanied minors, were detained in March at the southern border of the United States, a rise of 71% in a month and the highest level in 15 years.
Most of the migrants come from the three countries of the Central American Northern Triangle.
That area, vulnerable to natural disasters, was hit by two devastating hurricanes in November and is hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and a prolonged drought.
“We are analyzing the issue of poverty and, therefore, the lack of economic opportunities; the issue of extreme weather conditions and lack of climate adaptation, as well as corruption and lack of good governance, and violence against women, indigenous, LBGTQ and Afro-descendants,” said Harris.
She pointed out that the idea is to build a “comprehensive strategy” bilaterally and multilaterally and with international organizations.
“I am sure we can move forward and create a sense of hope for the future,” said Harris, who on Tuesday will host a virtual roundtable with Guatemalan community organizations.
Giammattei agreed on the need to “create hope.”
“The Guatemalan government wants to be a partner [of the United States] to address (…) not only poverty but so many evils that affect us,” Giammattei said.
In addition, he highlighted anticipation for Harris’ visit in June and proposed to draw up a joint plan.
“I believe that we must build a roadmap between governments so that we can reach an agreement (…) to guarantee peace, progress and development, and also so that we can ensure the cooperation we need from you,” said Giammattei.
Harris, who took note of it, said goodbye with a “thank you very much” in Spanish.
On Twitter, Giammattei said that he discussed with Harris “multiple issues of interest to both nations.”
“We coincide in the generation of hope through the consolidation of walls of prosperity, so that people find opportunities in Guatemala,” he tweeted.
According to the White House, among the participants were the Guatemalan Foreign Minister, Pedro Brolo, and Juan González, advisor on Latin America at Biden’s National Security Council, and Ricardo Zúñiga, special envoy of the State Department for the Northern Triangle.
Harris and Giammattei spoke hours after the US Treasury sanctioned Guatemalan legislator Felipe Alejos Lorenzana and Gustavo Alejos Cambara, former chief of staff of former President Álvaro Colom (2008-2012) for corruption. The measure supposes the blocking of all his assets and interests in the United States.
Both are accused by Washington of trying to interfere in the selection of judges of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) and the Court of Appeals of Guatemala for their own benefit.