In Guatemala, Mexican president asks US for more assistance to deal with immigration

Andrés Manuel López Obrador met with his counterpart Alejandro Giammattei on the first stop of a tour of Central America focused on migration challenges

El presidente de México, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, con su homólogo de Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei
The President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, with his Guatemalan counterpart, Alejandro Giammattei.MEXICO'S PRESIDENCY (REUTERS)

Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Thursday took advantage of the first stop on his tour of Central America to ask for more collaboration from the US government on the issue of immigration.

Speaking in Guatemala City, López Obrador emphasized that “it is essential for the United States to provide the necessary resources” to start the social programs that, in the case of Guatemala, are already in place and only require one last financial push, a view that was corroborated by Guatemala president Alejandro Giammattei at a joint press conference from the National Palace.

López Obrador, known popularly by the initials AMLO, arrived in Guatemala on Wednesday in the first stop of a Central American tour focused on key issues shared between these countries, notably migration, development and economic integration.

The trip takes place against a backdrop of US pressure on Guatemala’s neighbor to the north to reduce migration flows to the US border.

There are 22 development programs defined for Guatemala under the auspices of ECLAC, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. “We hope to be able to finalize them in the coming months,” said Giammattei. Last year, ECLAC presented a road map for Central America with specific projects and funding forecasts. This plan is Mexico’s great asset in its commitment to cooperation and development in source countries of immigration. The plan remains stalled over differences of opinion on methodology and investment amounts. But it is the cornerstone of Mexico’s negotiations with the United States, which have accelerated in recent weeks amid growing migratory pressure on the border.

Despite the recent harmony shown between the parties, Washington currently maintains a double agenda. On the one hand, it demands more police control from Mexico on its borders, and on the other, it is negotiating the terms and amounts of the financing. Last December it released a first battery of investments managed directly with Central American governments. One of the underlying differences focuses on the US requirement to subordinate its economic aid to the performance of the recipients. Washington has been waiting nearly four years to approve the release of $4 billion for Central America as part of the joint plans with Mexico.

”It seems inexplicable to me that Washington has been so late with the approval of the $4 billion that it has offered to invest in Central America,” said López Obrador. The Mexican president acknowledged that it is a recurring issue in his meetings with both the US president, Joe Biden, and the vice president, Kamala Harris. “Only with international collaboration can we put an end to the painful reality of migration.”

López Obrador’s tour will continue through El Salvador, Honduras and Belize to end in Cuba on Sunday. In the six-year term that began in 2018, this will be just the fourth time AMLO has left Mexico, and the only time that he is traveling somewhere other than the US.

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