Kamala Harris left Washington on Sunday June 6 for Guatemala then Mexico, a first international trip for the vice-president who says she wants “Give hope” to a region where the majority of migrants arriving at the southern border of the United States come from.
Charged by Joe Biden in March with the sensitive issue of illegal immigration, the former presidential candidate has so far remained in the background on this thorny issue, and more generally discreet since his arrival at the White House on January 20.
She now wants to develop a comprehensive strategy to tackle the causes of the influx of thousands of migrants which is complicating the start of the Democratic president’s mandate.
A spot ” difficult “, according to Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue think tank.
“We need to give people a sense of hope, that help is coming, that if they stay [dans leurs pays d’origine], it will improve “, insists the ex-senator from California.
“Very frank conversations”
After a technical problem that forced her plane to turn around just after takeoff, the vice-president finally flew to Guatemala on Sunday, where she will spend the night before meeting President Alejandro Giammattei on Monday. On Tuesday, she will be in Mexico to meet with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. She will also meet with representatives of civil society, and union and employer leaders, says her team.
Kamala Harris said he wanted to have “Very frank and honest conversations” about ” the necessity “ to fight corruption, crime and violence in Guatemala, especially when these evils target “Some of the most vulnerable populations”. It “Says what she thinks, which is good. She is frank “, recognized the Guatemalan president on CBS, in an interview broadcast on Sunday.
For the Mexican Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marcelo Ebrard, it will mainly be a question of finding agreements “To accelerate the growth of investment and social welfare in southern Mexico, as well as in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, so that emigration is only an option and not an obligation because of the poverty and insecurity ”.
The number of undocumented migrants arrested at the border between Mexico and the United States reached in April its highest level in fifteen years. Among these more than 178,600 migrants, including minors who arrived alone, 82% came from Mexico and “North triangle” from Central America – Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
The millions of doses of anti-Covid vaccines promised by Washington to Latin America should also be mentioned. Kamala Harris warned the Guatemalan and Mexican heads of state directly by telephone on Thursday, just before Joe Biden announced that a first tranche of six million doses would be distributed in Latin America and the Caribbean through the Covax mechanism, and that another six million would be delivered directly by Washington to partner countries such as Mexico, Canada or Egypt.
“A real commitment” on the quantity of vaccines to be sent to the countries of the northern triangle “Would be a very positive result” of M’s journeyme Harris, judge Rebecca Bill Chavez, expert in security and democracy issues.
The Vice President’s tour is part of Joe Biden’s pledge to adopt a more migration policy “Human” after the harsh approach of his predecessor Donald Trump.
But the challenges facing Kamala Harris seem more complex than those faced by the Democratic president when he was in charge of the same file, as Barack Obama’s number two (2009-2017). “Conditions have deteriorated considerably since 2014”, confirms Michael Shifter, according to whom the pandemic has greatly aggravated the economic situation and the violence. The task of the former prosecutor is therefore announced “Much more difficult”, with some “Much more problematic partners”.
Several politicians from the “North triangle” were designated in May by the Biden administration as “Corrupt officials”. And Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez has been implicated by a New York court in connection with his brother’s conviction for cocaine trafficking in the United States. The Republican opposition accuses Joe Biden of being responsible for a “Border disaster”, affirming that he created a real breath of fresh air by relaxing the migration policies of his predecessor.