US Undersecretary of State reiterates the need to fight corruption and have judicial independence in Guatemala

Uzra Zeya, Undersecretary of State for Civil Security, Democracy and Human Rights, together with the United States Ambassador to Guatemala, William W. Popp, are in Quetzaltenango this Wednesday, December 1, for the inauguration of the Center of Attention for Migrants and Returnees .

Undersecretary Zeya responded to Free Press and Guatevisión on the issue of migration and the fight against corruption. Also of the relevance of the Summit for Democracy to be held between December 9 and 10 and from which Guatemala was excluded.

The US official indicated that her work is humanitarian assistance for people who have been displaced, so in recent years the United States has provided 207 million dollars for humanitarian support in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico. too.

He said that there is strong commitment from his country behind this effort to establish this new migration resource center in Xela.

On another topic, regarding the judicial sector in Guatemala, Uzra Zeya said that they see the independence of the judicial sector as critical for a healthy democracy.

She said she was happy to have met with judges and experts on this issue as part of her visit.

Fight against corruption

“I can tell you that President Biden has elevated anti-corruption and combat as a security priority, that will be one of the most critical focal points of the Summit for Democracy that will take place virtually next week,” he added.

He noted that they see democracies large and small attacked by corruption that has the potential to erode the roots of democracy, accountability and the judicial system.

He highlighted the actions taken in 2021 to sanction “officials” in Guatemala and in other countries also to increase accountability and the fight against corruption.

“We appreciate all those anti-corruption struggles in Guatemala, we are very committed to continue working with you,” he said.

Summit Agenda

Regarding the agenda of the Summit for Democracy, he indicated that it will deal with totalitarianism, the fight against corruption, and how to advance on Human Rights at home and abroad.

He said that they are grateful for the efforts of the Ambassador to Guatemala, William Popp, and his Guatemalan partners who work with them on this agenda.

He added that the Summit is part of an effort by the United States to focus on Human Rights and democratic values ​​in foreign policy, “which is the direction our president wants to take.”

Freedom of the press

Uzra Zeya pointed out that threats and harassment against journalists “are unacceptable” in any country and certainly in Guatemala.

“We believe that a free and independent press is essential for a free and healthy democracy,” he stressed.

She expressed that she was honored to be with the ambassador and to meet with several journalists who do very important work in Guatemala. He said they support public information and accountability for governments, so they are happy to support the efforts of an independent press.

The US ambassador to Guatemala, William Popp, highlighted that they have seen journalists and the free press as a pillar of democracy, not only in Guatemala, but in other countries of the world.

He also indicated that on Tuesday, November 30, they met with several “very brave” journalists. He highlighted the commitment of the press to report what is happening in the country and strengthen the rule of law.

Refugee and community care

Undersecretary Zeya reported that the reintegration of returnees is a priority for the United States and for the USAID, which works with the Guatemalan government and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to offer support and help the reintegration proceed successfully. .

He said that this Center of Attention for Migrants and Returnees in Xela is inclusive to welcome all nationalities and they are happy with the partnership with the UN agency for Refugees in this purpose.

In her speech at the inauguration of this Center, she stated that she was happy to be in Quetzaltenango to celebrate this achievement that would not be possible without the support of the Guatemalan government, international organizations, and non-governmental partners.

He indicated that President Biden prioritizes humanitarian responses and that they are collaborative and humanely managed to get to the root of this forced mobilization in the long term.

He added that they work to implement strategies in shared responsibilities. He added that these coordinated actions with the governments in the region are to increase legal channels and access to protection.

He explained that this initiative to enable these centers is the collaboration of main actors in the Government of Guatemala and the United Nations system to implement a response.

He highlighted that many agencies are involved in order to address various needs and develop the concept of these centers so that they meet the needs of the local community and the people who are mobilized.

They will serve people of any nationality, including refugees in need of international protection, survivors of trafficking and gender-based violence, such as vulnerable children.

Each Center is designed to meet the needs and will have information in multiple languages ​​for available social services.

“We are committed to working together to find solutions, we thank Canada and other partners who are working with us to expand legal migration throughout the region,” he said.

He announced that they will establish another Attention Center for Migrants and Returnees in Huehuetenango and there is collaboration from the government and international partners.

Function of the Center in Xela

Jorge Peraza, IOM chief of mission for Guatemala and Honduras, reported that Quetzaltenango was prioritized because according to the statistics they manage, there is greater migration in neighboring municipalities. He said that they understand that there is an important return migration and the idea is to have a Center that is as close as possible to the people they want to serve, who have the profile of potential migrants.

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They will also provide other services to prevent irregular migration, so they try to connect with labor migration programs. In addition, they accompany a campaign for regular migration to Mexico.

The idea is to offer alternatives with H2 work visas and reach people who require guidance and services.

They will accompany Migration for the registration and reception of applications for international protection. They will also see what the needs of the people are.

They will work on the issue of certification of skills for returnees, since many know different trades.

Between two or three months they will open another Center in Huehuetenango under the strategy of getting closer to the people. They are under analysis to have telephone lines for orientation and there will be mobile units to get closer to the population and find out what services the Guatemalan State does not provide.

The investment in Xela is about 3 million dollars for the first year of operation.

Carlos Carrera, UNICEF country representative in Guatemala, said that one of the purposes is for the Xela Center to provide information and referral of services for returnees and those who wish to migrate, but that it is in a safe and regular way.

120 thousand minors at the border

He added that in the last year, some 120,000 Guatemalan children have been identified on the southern border of the United States.

At least half unaccompanied, and current US policy is not to return unaccompanied children, but to return to households with children.

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Mexico does maintain a policy of returning unaccompanied children, which requires a reception and place them safely.

Most are teenagers with families already residing in the United States.

Among the causes of the migration of minors is the lack of opportunities, among these educational ones. Also for reasons of insecurity.

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