Guatemala's New President and Immigration

By Kausha Luna on October 26, 2015

The people of Guatemala, tired of a corrupt political class, elected a political outsider as their new president – comedian Jimmy Morales. (The vice president was arrested for corruption in August and the president in September.) Morales has been called the "Donald Trump of Guatemala" and beat the Central American country's former first lady. Emigration to the United States was an issue in his campaign.

In an interview last month Morales declared "The problem of Guatemalan migration has no short-term solution." The president-elect noted that in order to reduce migration it is ''urgent'' to initiate ''an awareness campaign in the communities in the five departments with the highest incidence in the process or the phenomenon of family reunification.'' The campaign, he explained, should call attention to the dangers implied in crossing borders and the transfer or minors, and thereby try to "reduce a little the intention of this immigration."

According to Morales, the migration problem will continue in Guatemala as long as insecurity, lack of jobs, opportunities for economic development, access to health and education prevail. The comedian reiterated, ''If all this is not restored in the interior of the country, and outside of urban areas, we will not succeed in finding a solution." Morales concluded that no solution is possible if Guatemalans do not fight against corruption.

During his presidential campaign Morales garnered great support from Guatemalan immigrants, promising to serve not only the 15 million Guatemalans at home but also the 2 million who reside in the United States. Guatemalans living outside the country may not vote, but, as a Breitbart article about his visit to the Washington, D.C., area last month explained, "Morales was here rallying support among them to try to gin up extra support with their family members back home and to sell his migration policy to people."