Press Release: Following VP Harris’s Trip to Guatemala and Mexico, LAWG Calls for Decisive Actions on Corruption, Migrant Protections

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June 9, 2021

Antonio Saadipour | Program Associate

LAWG: Following VP Harris’s Trip to Guatemala and Mexico, LAWG Calls for Decisive Actions on Corruption, Migrant Protections

Washington, D.C. – Following the visit of Vice President Kamala Harris to Guatemala and Mexico on June 7th and 8th, the Latin America Working Group (LAWG) calls for the United States to move forward with decisive actions on corruption, human rights, and access to protection for migrants in consultation with civil society organizations in the northern countries of Central America and Mexico.The White House announced new initiatives such as an anti-corruption taskforce, a human smuggling and trafficking taskforce, a young women’s empowerment initiative, and microenterprise opportunities in Guatemala. New areas for U.S.-Mexico cooperation included labor cooperation, partnerships to address the root causes of migration from Central America, investment in southern Mexico, and support for the search and identification of the disappeared in Mexico. LAWG had joined U.S. and international civil society organizations in a letter to the Vice President ahead of the visit calling for more decisive action to address root causes of migration and restore access to asylum.

LAWG co-directors made the following statements to respond to the completion of her visit:
“Vice President Harris struck some of the right notes with Guatemalan President Giammattei, promising to ‘root out corruption wherever it exists,’ and highlighting the urgency of protecting judicial independence and respect for civil society,” said Lisa Haugaard, co-director of the Latin America Working Group. “The launching of a new anti-corruption taskforce for Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador is promising. If the United States wants to help address the root causes of why people flee, challenging corruption, uplifting civil society initiatives for change, and urging governments to serve their people is the place to start. Let’s keep that focus.”  

“Families, men, women, and children are fleeing life-threatening situations and are in urgent need of protection. The U.S. should be focusing on humanitarian responses to migration, not pressing Mexico and Guatemala to militarize their borders to stop refugees. We welcome U.S. support to bring justice to the thousands of families who have been leading the search for the disappeared across Mexico for too long without any help. Initiatives like this to address impunity in cases of forced disappearances and other human rights violations that are implemented with local organizations should be a priority for U.S. strategy towards the region,” commented LAWG co-director Daniella Burgi-Palomino.