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World

US vice president arrives in Guatemala to bring message of 'hope'

  • Giammattei, speaking to CBS ahead of the visit, seemed to agree, saying Harris "doesn't hold back, which is good. She is frank."
07 Jun 2021

GUATEMALA CITY: US Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in Guatemala Sunday, bringing a message of "hope" to a region hammered by Covid-19 and which is the source of most of the undocumented migrants seeking entry to the United States.

Harris, who will also visit Mexico, is making her first journey abroad as President Joe Biden's deputy with an eye toward tackling the root causes of migration from the region -- one of the thorniest issues facing the White House.

She landed at an air force base outside Guatemala City on Sunday evening, where she was greeted by Foreign Minister Pedro Brolo and US Ambassador William Popp.

Harris will meet with President Alejandro Giammattei on Monday before leaving to meet with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday.

"I am certain that it will be a successful visit and that we will continue to strengthen bilateral relations for the benefit of our peoples," Giammattei tweeted as he extended a "most cordial welcome" to Harris.

Harris also has plans to meet with community, labor and business leaders during the trip, according to her team.

Her exit from Washington was briefly delayed when her plane was forced to turn around soon after take-off due to a technical problem, and she had to take a different plane.

Harris said she hopes to have "very frank and honest discussions" with the two leaders about corruption, crime and violence.

Giammattei, speaking to CBS ahead of the visit, seemed to agree, saying Harris "doesn't hold back, which is good. She is frank."

Detentions of undocumented travelers along the US-Mexico border, including unaccompanied minors, hit a 15-year high in April. Nearly 180,000 people were intercepted -- more than 80 percent of them coming from Mexico or the so-called Northern Triangle of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

"We have to give people a sense of hope ... that if they stay, things will get better," Harris has previously said, after Biden tasked her with leading diplomatic efforts on the issue in March.