Kamala Harris calls on Guatemala to tackle corruption to curb migration to the US

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Tuesday June 08, 2021 - 18:29:26 in News In English by Ali Adan
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    Kamala Harris calls on Guatemala to tackle corruption to curb migration to the US

    US Vice President Kamala Harris said on Monday she has held "robust" talks with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei about the need to fight corruption and deter undocumented immigration from Central America to the United States.

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US Vice President Kamala Harris said on Monday she has held "robust" talks with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei about the need to fight corruption and deter undocumented immigration from Central America to the United States.

During a press conference with Giammattei, Harris delivered a blunt message to anyone thinking of making the perilous journey north: "Don’t come.”

"We had a robust, candid and thorough conversation,” Harris said. "The president and I discussed that most people don’t want to leave the house, they don’t want to leave the place where the language they know is spoken.”

She said a task force combining Justice, State and Finance resources would work with local prosecutors to punish corrupt actors in Central America.

The US administration has urged the "Northern Triangle” – El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – to do more to tackle corruption to improve social conditions for the population and make them less eager to emigrate.

But those efforts have been undermined by corruption scandals and opposition to US-backed judges known for their commitment to fighting corruption, as well as concerns that the region is drifting into more authoritarian tendencies.

France 24’s Ioan Grillo reports on US Vice President Harris’ trip to Guatemala

Harris will travel to Mexico after Guatemala on Tuesday for talks with the Mexican government.

The Biden administration also unveiled details on Monday of another prosecutors’ task force to fight human smuggling in Central America and Mexico.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said the Joint Task Force Alpha would deploy Department of Justice and Homeland Security resources against "the most productive and dangerous” smuggling and trafficking groups in the region, according to a statement.

The group will complement efforts to build cases against corrupt actors in the region, the statement said.

Harris’ visit to Guatemala was her first overseas trip as vice president, part of her mission to address the root causes of migration from Central America to the United States.

"It is in our collective interest that we work together,” Harris said at the start of a meeting with Giammattei.

However, disagreements have arisen over how best to tackle corruption, with the United States recognizing anti-graft fighters the conservative government and its allies view as politically biased.

Giammattei said the fight against drug trafficking should be an integral part of tackling corruption.

Harris will also meet civic leaders and entrepreneurs in Guatemala and then go to Mexico. Priorities include economic development, climate and food insecurity and women’s issues, White House officials said.

There has been criticism from some officials in Guatemala and Mexico over the timing and thrust of Harris’ mission to curb migration to the United States from the region, with the Mexico leg following the weekend’s midterm elections.

Harris discussed sharing COVID-19 vaccines with Guatemala at the meeting, she said. She confirmed that the United States would supply half a million COVID-19 doses to Guatemala.

(REUTERS)


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