Remarks by Vice President Harris and President Giammattei of the Republic of Guatemala Before Bilateral Meeting

Via Teleconference
Vice President’s Ceremonial Office
4:02 P.M. EDT

VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS:  But, it is my honor to be with you, Mr. President. 

PRESIDENT GIAMMATTEI:  It is my honor to meet you by Zoom.  (Laughs.)

     VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS:  Yes, by Zoom, and soon in person.  

     But I do want you to know that I value the partnership between our countries and our people, and I look forward to working together to strengthen our ties around our common interests. 

     When we last spoke by telephone a few weeks ago, we discussed our shared commitment to expanding opportunities in Guatemala and throughout the region.

And as you of course know, the people of Guatemala have been suffering greatly because of the recent hurricanes, the persistent drought, and, of course, the damage from COVID-19. 

And as we have discussed, these are the acute factors that, in many ways, are causing people to leave their homes despite the fact that they would probably prefer to stay.

There are also longstanding issues that are often called the “root causes” of immigration.  We are looking at the issue of poverty and the lack, therefore, of economic opportunities; the issue of extreme weather conditions and the lack of climate adaptation; as well as corruption and the lack of good governance; and violence against women, Indigenous people, LGBTQ people, and Afro-descendants.

And we want to work with you to address both the acute causes as well as the root causes in a way that will bring hope to the people of Guatemala that there will be an opportunity for them if they stay at home.   

Part of the spirit behind out work is that, of course, the Western Hemisphere is our collective home, and the people in it and our neighbors — including the people of Guatemala — are nearby and we have a responsibility, therefore, to engage.

The United States plans to increase relief to the region; strengthen our cooperation to manage migration in an effective, secure, and humane manner. 

And in addition to our bilateral work and our multilateral efforts, the United States is building a comprehensive strategy with international institutions, with allies around the globe, with foundations here in the United States, and the private sector as well as community organizations.

In addition: Tomorrow, I will meet with Guatemalan community leaders, and I am eager to hear their thoughts.  The people of the region, of course, must be at the center of everything we do.

I believe that the work, in order to be successful, will require everyone’s participation.  And I do believe, also, it will require political will and hard work to accomplish our goals.  But I am confident that we can make progress and create a sense of hope for the future.  

And, Mr. President, again, I am honored to meet with you.  I look forward to traveling to Guatemala and meeting with you in person.  And currently, our — our plan is to come there in the month of June.

Thank you.  

PRESIDENT GIAMMATTEI:  (As interpreted.)  First of all, thank you very much, Madam Vice President. 

If for this meeting where we shall (inaudible) multiple (inaudible) interests to (inaudible) nations.  

One thing that I fully agree with you — what we just said — is creating hope.  Creating hope through the consolidation of walls of prosperity where people can find here opportunities to move ahead and, therefore, not need to go abroad to the United States is the road that should be our objective.

You may rest assured, Madam Vice President, that the Guatemalan governor [government] wishes to be your partners in order to address the common goals to eradicate not only poverty, but the causes of so many evils that afflict us.

When I hear you speak of placing human beings at the center of things, I can only congratulate myself and you for adopting such a position.

Because we seem to have forgotten that we need to fight to preserve the life of all members of our society — all members.  The stability of all members of a country without regard to ethnic origin or anything else of that nature, but all be able to live in conditions of (inaudible).

I was so happy to be able to speak to you, and I’m looking forward to your coming in June.  But from here to June, I believe that we should build a roadmap between government and government so that we can reach agreements so that we can then work on — in this very hard road that we have ahead of us to ensure peace, progress, and development.  And also, so that we can secure that cooperations that we need from you, in terms of matters that need strengthening.  

So, with that, welcome, Madam Vice President.  

VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS:  Muchas gracias.  Thank you very much.  

                          END                 4:12 P.M. EDT