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Guatemala disputes Biden admin claim of a signed deal to bolster security on its border

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Guatemalan government officials have pushed back on the Biden administration, saying that no deal has been signed with Washington to increase security along their country’s border.

The statement made clear that no “signed document” exists between the countries regarding border security while acknowledging that Guatemalan troops were deployed along the border earlier this year.

The pushback comes on the heels of a statement from White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday in which she told reporters the Biden administration forged a deal with Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico to bolster the presence of security personnel at their borders.

“The objective is to make it more difficult to make the journey, and make crossing the borders more difficult,” Psaki noted Monday. “We worked with them to increase law enforcement at the border to deter the travel, which is a treacherous journey.”

Later, she noted: “Guatemala surged 1,500 police and military personnel to its southern border with Honduras and agreed to set up 12 checkpoints along the migratory routes.”

In a statement issued in Spanish, the Guatemalan government said that 1,500 soldiers sent to the border in January were deployed as a result of migrant caravans.

“President Alejandro Guimmattei has committed, since the beginning of his term in January 2020, to strengthen border security as a strategy to battle transnational threats like drug trafficking, human trafficking, and as a preventive measure in the face of the pandemic,” said the statement, according to The Hill.

Vice President Kamala Harris, whom Biden has been put in charge of immigration and border issues, spoke with Guimmattei by phone March 30. A readout from the White House of the phone call noted she and the Guatemalan leader “agreed to collaborate on promoting economic development, leveraging technology, strengthening climate resilience, and creating the conditions to expand opportunity for people in their home countries in order to address the root causes of migration to the United States.”

On Monday, White House Domestic Policy Council aide Tyler Moran provided MSNBC with details of the alleged agreement, describing them as necessary to protect children who attempt to make their way to the U.S.

“We’ve secured agreements for them to put more troops on their own border. Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala have all agreed to do this,” Moran said. “That not only is going to prevent the traffickers and the smugglers and cartels that take advantage of the kids on their way here but also to protect those children.”

The agreements with Honduras and Mexico also include the latter keeping 10,000 troops at its southern border, while the former deploys 7,000 police and troops to “disperse a large contingent of migrants” heading north, the White House said.

According to a Reuters report last month, Mexican officials said that nearly 9,000 personnel from the defense ministry, National Guard, and navy were deployed to the country’s northern and southern borders. And the Mexican government said Monday it planned to keep those troops deployed along its borders.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Honduras Foreign Affairs Minister Lisandro Rosales said Monday that “there was no commitment on the part of the Honduran delegation to put soldiers on the border, even though there is a clear commitment by the Honduran government to avoid this kind of migration that generates death and mourning for Honduran families.”

Later Monday, Honduran Defense Minister Fredy Santiago Diaz said that his country was considering boosting the number of troops along his country’s border, the Epoch Times reported.

Jon Dougherty

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