The visit by US Vice President Kamala Harris to Guatemala reaffirmed pretty much what he already knew. In the first place, she told the Central Americans who plan to undertake the dangerous journey to te US: “do not come.” Those words earned her the backlash of the most progressive wing of her party. Second, she stated: “we will seek to eradicate corruption, wherever it exists.”
The “don’t come” message was clearly directed to the American public rather than Central Americans. There are figures that can explain it: a recent Ipsos poll shows that 61% of Americans think that the solution to stop illegal migration is to increase funding for funding for inmigration enforcement, 71% agree with increasing criminal penalties for inmigrant smugglers, 63% favor imposing economic sanctions on Mexico to encourage their government to wordk to reduce migrants and 44% favor continuing with the construction of the wall.
In this sense, the creation of a center for migrants who had been sent back from Mexico and the United States was announced. It is not yet known on what terms it would work, but it sounds like a safe third country rebranding.
In terms of aid, they offered US $ 40 million over three years to launch the Young Women’s Empowerment Initiative, US $ 48 million to support entrepreneurship and development innovation. On the other hand, Vice President Harris offered to provide 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
Regarding the fight of crime and corruption, there are still some issues that should be addressed. At the end of April the DHS announced the launch of Operation Sentinel focused on transnational criminal organizations affiliated with the smuggling of migrants. US law enforcement agencies would work with local authorities to identify those networks and their members.
During the meeting between Harris and Giammattei, the creation of the Joint Task Force Alpha was made official. This task force is in line with Operation Sentinel because it announces efforts to prosecute smuggling and human trafficking groups, as well as transfers of capacities to local authorities to prosecute these types of crimes.
But, on the other hand, it announces that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will increase its efforts in terms of “investigations, prosecutions and recovery of assets” related to corruption. In turn, they announce that they would work with local prosecutors to help them file corruption cases in these countries. The legal tools from which the US will start are the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the Cleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.
It is not clear on what terms they will work and especially how far they can go considering the scope of action that the aforementioned American legislation allows. But in terms of cooperation in the fight against corruption, it is the highlight of the visit of the US Vice President, this task force will have to be paid attention.