By Steve Hecht:
Guatemala may fly under the radar of US media, but how Donald Trump handles this Central American nation will be crucial to restoring the rule of law on immigration. As William La Jeunesse noted on Tucker Carlson Tonight, “the real problem the border patrol is experiencing now isn’t Mexicans trying to sneak in, but Central Americans wanting asylum.”
With a 540-mile border and more than 130 entry points into Mexico, Guatemala is the jumping-off point for both domestic emigrants and those of neighboring countries, as well as from Asia and the Middle East on their way to the United States. Mexico has proved incapable of stemming the flow of illegals transiting north.
The Guatemalan government has almost no presence in the rural areas that border Mexico, as local armed gangs suppress the population and oppose development projects. They operate with protection from the national government, which acts under pressure from the Obama administration.
Naturally, rural Guatemalans yearn to escape, as they suffer from violence, lack of opportunity, and little to no confidence in their nation’s future. This law of the jungle also leaves no viable way to process and impede foreign migrants on their way to Mexico and the United States.
The Obama administration’s response has been the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle (Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador), first announced in late 2014. The $3.75 billion funding for five years — with oversight from USAID, US ambassadors, and local governments — is supposed to go to projects with private-sector participation.
The true objective of these funds, however, is to garner submission from the purported beneficiaries. The lever opens the door for a collectivist foreign-policy agenda, which directly undermines the economic development of these nations and the livelihoods of the would-be emigrants. An ironic symptom of this approach is that private investors are unwilling to partner with Alliance for Prosperity projects, which do have potential to promote development.
Vice President Joe Biden made three trips to Guatemala from mid-2014 to mid- 2015, one of which was to meet only with President Otto Pérez Molina to discuss one topic: the extension of the UN-appointed Anti-Impunity Commission (CICIG). When asked by the press about the future of the commission, Biden said it would stay, period.
The commission is under the thumb of its major funder, the Obama administration. Its collectivist orientation has brought it into coalition with the nation’s Marxist faction, including violent groups that descend from the guerrilla of Guatemala’s decades-long internal armed conflict. The CICIG commissionerand the US ambassador even smile for cameras with leaders of violent groups such as the Committee of United Campesinos (CUC).
Steve Hecht, a graduate of Columbia University, is a businessman who has lived in Guatemala since 1972. He has written widely about the country’s politics and produced the mini-documentary “From Hillary With Love” that details the Clinton-Obama role in imposing a collectivist regime on Guatemala.