Guatemalan President says he has had no direct contact with the White House since Border Tsar Harris’ June meeting

EXCLUSIVE: Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei told Fox News‘s John Roberts in an exclusive interview Wednesday that he had not spoken with the White House since Vice President Kamala Harris, the border tsar of the Biden administration, the had met in Guatemala City over the summer.

Giammattei said there was “a lot to do” to resolve the migration crisis affecting the two nations, as Guatemalans flee, often illegally, to the United States.

Regarding Harris’s emphasis on the “root causes” of migration in Central America, Giammattei suggested on “America Reports” that the crisis is not a one-sided problem.

“First of all, migration cannot be stopped on the basis of circumstantial causes. It must be stopped on the basis of structural causes,” he said, pointing to the drug cartels that are in operation. largely in Mexico who also smuggle Guatemalans and other humans into the United States

“It’s a big deal to run human trafficking programs. It’s a $ 4 billion business for these criminals. And so we have to tackle the structural causes,” Giammattei added.

Giammattei recalled telling Harris that as a former California prosecutor, she likely understands that the US criminal code can be tightened to better root out problems.

Migrants who aim to reach the United States walk along a highway as they leave San Pedro Sula, Honduras, before dawn on Tuesday. (AP Photo / Delmer Martinez)

He told Roberts that the federal government could better enforce and strengthen federal crime laws against coyotes or human traffickers themselves.

“Then the United States can ask us to extend our extradition terms – and with that, these coyotes would land in federal prison with very stiff sentences. This is something drug traffickers fear,” he said. declared Giammattei.

Roberts asked if it seemed “odd” that Harris and Biden had not spoken to him directly since they met, despite the ongoing crisis that is escalating on the continent.

Giammattei added that he had, however, had contact with the “ambassador” of the United States. Currently, Ambassador-designate Laura Farnsworth-Dogu has yet to be confirmed by the Senate, leaving Trump-era Chargé d’affaires, Colleen Hoey, the acting senior diplomat instead.

President-elect Alejandro Giammattei speaks during an interview with AFP in Guatemala City, August 12, 2019. REUTERS / Carlos Barria

President-elect Alejandro Giammattei speaks during an interview with AFP in Guatemala City, August 12, 2019. REUTERS / Carlos Barria
(JOHAN ORDONEZ / AFP via Getty Images – REUTERS / Carlos Barria)

“We have had many conversations with your Ambassador, but [between] my presidency and the White House, no. I spoke to Joe Biden once because I introduced myself. Then we had a visit from Vice President Harris. On state and migration issues, we had Mr. Alejandro Mayorkas. Other than that direct communication, no, we haven’t had it. “

When asked if Biden or Donald Trump had better immigration policies, Giammattei referred to the American people.

However, he added that the only year his tenure and Trump’s coincided, the correspondence was more “direct.”

“I am not of the same ideology as the current administration. They expressed great joy with the change that has recently taken place in the elections inside Honduras with the newly elected president,” Giammattei added, member of the conservative Vamos party.

In Honduras, left-wing Freedom and Refoundation Party candidate Xiomara Castro won elections in that country earlier this year, defeating Nasry Asfura, a member of incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernandez’s “national” Christian-Humanist Party, signaling a political turn to the left in Tegucigalpa. .

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Giammattei later told Roberts that despite criticism, Guatemala and the United States have a lot in common: “We are allies of allies of the United States.

He noted that his government supports Taiwanese sovereignty as well as having one of the few international embassies in Jerusalem, Israel – where Trump moved the U.S. outpost during his tenure.

When asked if he thought the United States was a partner in economic development and was trying to lift Guatemalans out of poverty, Giammattei said: “The day I met [Biden] personally, I will ask him. “

Roberts then told Sandra Smith, co-host of “America Reports,” that he asked to meet Giammattei again after Biden finally signed up with him.

Giammattei, he said, replied: “We may be waiting a long time to meet.”

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