Guatemala refuses Trump’s ‘safe third country’

Guatemala's President Jimmy Morales gestures after a meeting with acting Secretary of U.S. Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan, unseen in Guatemala City, Guatemala May 27, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

By Caribbean News Now contributor

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala — Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales has postponed his visit to Washington his office said the Central American leader had no interest in signing an agreement to make his country a safe third country.

President Morales was scheduled to visit Washington to discuss migration said previously via twitter, “The Guatemalan government… head of state would be visiting the northern nation from July 13 until 17 during which time “he will meet with US government officials … to discuss security, migration, and economic issues.”

Last week, five former senior officials appealed to the court to block any agreement with the United States that would declare Guatemala a ‘safe third country,’ the government statement said, “The planned meeting between president Morales and US president Donald Trump this week had been postponed until the Guatemalan Constitutional Court had ruled on legal challenges.”

Guatemala’s constitutional court late Sunday granted an injunction blocking president Morales from signing a migration deal with the United States which would oblige it to offer asylum to migrants heading to the US border.

Under such a deal, Guatemala would be obliged to offer asylum to migrants who entered its territory en route to the United States. Migrants from Honduras and El Salvador heading to the US – Mexican border overland usually cross into Mexico via Guatemala.

Over the past week, the opposition has mounted to such a designation for Guatemala, which would reshape migration in the region.

“The government of the Republic reiterates that at no point it considers signing an agreement to convert Guatemala into a safe third country,” the Guatemalan government said.

June 26 President Trump stated “The US and Guatemala were close to reaching a “safe third-country agreement” as part of a larger US effort to stop Central Americans and other nationalities from seeking asylum there, as is their human right under international conventions.

Guatemala has resisted the US pressure to host refugees, vice president Jafeth Cabrera insisted that his country was incapable of hosting thousands of migrants or of becoming a Safe Third Country (STC). “Guatemala has neither the economy nor possibilities of being able to support a number of migrants of that nature.”



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