Categories: World News

New Guatemalan Leader Demands Respect From Trump

President-elect Alejandro Giammattei speaks during an interview with AFP in Guatemala City on August 12, 2019. Johan ORDONEZ / AFP


Guatemala’s president-elect Alejandro Giammattei said in an interview with AFP he would not seek confrontation with President Donald Trump over Central America’s migration crisis but would demand respect from his US counterpart.

“All diplomacy comes down to reciprocity,” said Giammattei, a 63-year-old conservative who defeated former first lady Sandra Torres in Sunday’s run-off vote.

“If he respects me, I respect him, if he treats me well, I treat him well, if he treats me badly, I treat him badly,” said Giammattei in the interview late Monday.

Giammattei said he views “with concern” a controversial migration pact agreed by his predecessor Jimmy Morales, that would allow Washington to send most Honduran and Salvadoran asylum seekers who passed through Guatemala back to the poor, crime-ridden country.

The deal has been strongly criticized in Guatemala, not least by NGOs who say the country does not even have the resources to look after its own population.

But the president-elect has so far avoided taking a strong position on the US deal, which he said would have to be submitted to Guatemalan lawmakers for approval.

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.”

“I understand President Trump’s position,” in the perspective of the campaign, said Giammattei.

“He wants to assert his image as the man who keeps his promises. That’s good. I understand him. I understand President Trump.”

Giammattei, a doctor, takes over from the corruption-tainted Morales in January at the start of a four-year term.

He has pledged to attack the grinding poverty that affects some 60 per cent 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.

“People leave because they don’t have housing, because of the low levels of health and education,” he said.

 Investment Bank 

As part of his plan to keep would-be migrants at home, Giammattei proposes massive investment to promote rural development and agribusiness and improve infrastructure on both sides of the border with Mexico, by creating an “investment bank” under the aegis of the Organization of American States (OAS).

“We could create a gigantic pole of development that could benefit both countries,” he said, adding that he would plead his case in Mexico City as well as in Washington during the transition period.

Also on his agenda is a visit to El Salvador next week for talks with President Nayib Bukele on combating organized criminal gangs and developing a massive Caribbean-Pacific railroad project.

“This is an incredible investment and we can count on more than one million jobs created in four years,” he said.

The fight against the region’s criminal gangs “must be multinational, must be done at the regional level. Organized crime does not respect borders,” said Giammattei, who has pledged to reintroduce the death penalty, suspended since 2000 in Guatemala.

He also promised “a fierce fight against drugs, and cartels — of which many are Mexican and operate in Guatemala.”

UN anti-corruption mission ‘finished’

On the fight against corruption, Giammattei ruled out any possibility of restoring the mandate of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), the United Nations mission that charged former president Otto Perez with graft and ran afoul of Morales because it investigated him.

“The Cicig is finished,” he said, adding that “President Morales has decided not to renew its mandate,” which ends in September — three months before Giammattei assumes power.

He acknowledged that the mission “was effective in some cases,” but regretted that it limited itself to “the criminal prosecution of the corrupt” and did not attack the causes of corruption.

“There will be no more Cicig,” he said emphatically.

He pledged to confront “de facto powers” who profit from corruption at all levels of Guatemalan society, including within his own political party.

“The de facto powers don’t scare me. I fear only God.”


Ignatius Igwe

Disqus Comments Loading...
Published by
Ignatius Igwe
Tags: Alejandro Giammattei Donald Trump Guatemala

Recent Posts

  • World News

Signs Of Hope In Trade War As US Delays New Tariffs On Chinese Electronics

  US retailers and global financial markets got an early Christmas present Tuesday as President Donald Trump's administration announced it…

12 hours ago
  • Crime Watch

Three Reported Killed As Festival Turns Violent In Isheri Community

  Three persons have been reportedly killed and several others injured allegedly by soldiers in Isheri Olofin community in the…

12 hours ago
  • Info Tech

New Spectacles Capture 3D Images

  Snap-on Tuesday unveiled new-generation Spectacles sunglasses that can take 3D pictures to share on its Snapchat messaging service known…

12 hours ago
  • Local

VIDEO: El-Zakzaky, Wife In Ambulance En Route To Indian Hospital

The leader of the proscribed Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, and his wife Zeenat are spending their first…

12 hours ago
  • Africa

Malian Children Facing A Spike In Violence, UNICEF Says

    UN child protection body UNICEF warned on Tuesday children in Mali faced rising violence with more than 150 killed in the first…

12 hours ago
  • environment

29 US States And Cities Sue Trump Over Climate Protections

A coalition of 22 US states and seven cities on Tuesday sued President Donald Trump's administration to block it from easing restrictions…

13 hours ago