Newly elected president of Guatemala wants to change USA migrant deal

Newly elected president of Guatemala wants to change USA migrant deal”

One of Giammattei's most crucial and hard tasks will be trying to stem the large flow of migrants heading toward the United States, with at least one per cent of Guatemala's population of some 16 million having left this year alone.

On Sunday, Guatemalan's elected conservative Alejandro Giammattei as leader of the country after he took a massive lead over his center-left rival.

The move, meant to reduce USA asylum claims, provoked widespread criticism from rights groups over the risks of sending vulnerable people to a country with endemic poverty and violence.

Morales announced in late 2017 that he had recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and meant to relocate his country's embassy to Jerusalem, making Guatemala the first nation to follow the lead of the US.

The president-elect also noted that the agreement would have to be ratified by the congresses of both nations to go into force. In an interview Giammattei suggested that in the absence of the CICIG, Guatemala should work with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and get help from Israel to improve their intelligence systems.

He also thanked outgoing President Jimmy Morales, saying that during his tenure "relations between Israel and Guatemala reached new heights, thanks also to his correct and fearless decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move the Guatemalan Embassy there".

Anger over corruption, impunity and inequality has fueled resentment of politicians in Guatemala, contributing to social instability that helps drive tens of thousands of people north each year in search of a better life in the United States.

The agreement signed by the current Morales government is aimed at reducing the number of asylum seekers arriving at the U.S. -Mexico border. A poll published this month by Guatemalan newspaper Prensa Libre showed more than eight out of 10 rejected the idea of the country accepting foreign migrants seeking asylum. 63-year old Giammattei focused his campaign on building a "wall of investment" along Guatemala's border with Mexico, in order to generate jobs and reduce migration.

He has pledged to attack the grinding poverty that affects some 60 percent of Guatemala's 17.7 population, as well as a murder rate of 4,500 per year, key drivers of illegal migration to the United States. His wishes to reintroduce the death penalty and emphasize "family values", which would target LGBT+ rights and women's reproduction rights according to Jorge Santos, director of an NGO human rights group known as Udefegua.

Central America's migration problem is not new, he said, but "it was magnified because it's become a theme of the political campaign in the United States".

Weak governance and economic development are ongoing risks to the country's rating, Fitch said.

The new president takes office January 14 and will most immediately face the task of attempting to stem the large flow of migrants headed towards the United States.

But the Trump administration was unlikely to do much to complement such efforts, Beltran added.

"We won. We are very excited; it is logical, it has been 12 years of struggle", Giammatttei said. "Anti-corruption is not a priority for this (US) administration".

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