GUATEMALA CITY – US Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in Guatemala Sunday, bringing a message of “hope” to a area hammered by Covid-19 and which is the supply of many of the undocumented migrants in search of entry to the US.
Harris, who may also go to Mexico, is making her first journey overseas as President Joe Biden’s deputy with a watch towards tackling the basis causes of migration from the area — one of many thorniest points dealing with the White Home.
She landed at an air pressure base outdoors Guatemala Metropolis on Sunday night, the place she was greeted by Overseas Minister Pedro Brolo and US Ambassador William Popp.
Harris will meet with President Alejandro Giammattei on Monday earlier than leaving to satisfy with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday.
“I’m sure that will probably be a profitable go to and that we’ll proceed to strengthen bilateral relations for the good thing about our peoples,” Giammattei tweeted as he prolonged a “most cordial welcome” to Harris.
Harris additionally has plans to satisfy with neighborhood, labor and enterprise leaders throughout the journey, in response to her workforce.
Her exit from Washington was briefly delayed when her aircraft was pressured to show round quickly after take-off on account of a technical downside, and he or she needed to take a unique aircraft.
Harris stated she hopes to have “very frank and trustworthy discussions” with the 2 leaders about corruption, crime and violence.
Giammattei, talking to CBS forward of the go to, appeared to agree, saying Harris “does not maintain again, which is nice. She is frank.”
Detentions of undocumented vacationers alongside the US-Mexico border, together with unaccompanied minors, hit a 15-year excessive in April. Almost 180,000 individuals had been intercepted — greater than 80 p.c of them coming from Mexico or the so-called Northern Triangle of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
“Now we have to present individuals a way of hope … that in the event that they keep, issues will get higher,” Harris has beforehand stated, after Biden tasked her with main diplomatic efforts on the difficulty in March.
– Vaccines, TPS, Title 42 –
Donation of coronavirus vaccines by the US to the area can also be anticipated to be up for dialogue.
Harris already addressed the topic over the cellphone with Giammattei and Lopez Obrador on Thursday, simply earlier than Biden introduced the cargo of a primary batch of six million doses to be distributed in Central America and the Caribbean via the worldwide Covax program, plus others to be despatched immediately from Washington to accomplice international locations corresponding to Mexico.
For safety and democracy professional Rebecca Invoice Chavez, “an actual dedication” on the variety of doses destined for the Northern Triangle could be “one very optimistic final result” of Harris’s journey.
One other potential subject is the potential for granting Momentary Protected Standing (TPS) to Guatemalans dwelling in the US, permitting them to work legally.
And there could possibly be discuss in Mexico of ending “Title 42,” a Trump-era coronavirus coverage permitting the instant deportation of undocumented migrants — even those that arrive in search of asylum.
– ‘Lots more durable’ –
The vp’s journey to Central America is a part of the Biden administration’s promise of a extra humane immigration coverage — in distinction to the hardline method taken by his predecessor Donald Trump.
However Harris faces challenges much more sophisticated than those Biden handled as Barack Obama’s vp, when he was charged with dealing with the identical matter.
“The situations have deteriorated dramatically since 2014,” stated Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue suppose tank, referring to a worsening financial state of affairs and growing violence, each exacerbated by the pandemic.
Harris’s work is “rather a lot more durable,” Shifter stated, “as a result of the (nation) companions are way more problematic.”
The connection between Washington and San Salvador has been tense because the Salvadoran Legislative Meeting, led by the ruling social gathering, fired judges and the lawyer normal on Might 1, and after the US labeled members of President Nayib Bukele’s authorities corrupt.
And Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez was implicated in cocaine trafficking in a New York courtroom earlier this yr.
A gaggle of 18 US Democratic senators wrote a letter to Harris forward of her journey.
“Guaranteeing stability in Central America immediately helps the nationwide pursuits of the US,” stated the group, led by Overseas Relations Committee head Bob Menendez.
The Republican opposition then again has accused Biden of making a “disaster” on the nation’s southern border by failing to rein in immigration.
Congress should nonetheless determine whether or not to approve the $861 million Biden has requested for subsequent yr as a part of his $four billion plan to tackle the difficulty of undocumented immigration.