Incoming Guatemala President Opposes Safe 3rd Country Deal but Wants to Limit Emigration

By Jason Peña on August 30, 2019

On August 11, Alejandro Giammattei won the presidential election in Guatemala. The former director of Guatemala’s penitentiary system is slated to take office on January 14, 2020.

President-elect Giammattei heavily campaigned on reducing gang violence, stopping migration, promoting job creation, and combating government corruption. The right-wing candidate is a vocal critic of the safe third country agreement his soon-to-be predecessor President Jimmy Morales arranged with the United States. Giammattei’s concerns lie with the logistics of housing migrants while they wait on their asylum requests to be processed by U.S. officials. Despite Giammattei’s opposition to the agreement, he met with Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan to discuss the migration and drug trafficking issues in Guatemala.

The Guatemalan president-elect recently began a dialogue with the presidents of his Central American neighbors. He has already spoken with Nayib Bukele of El Salvador, Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras, and Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua. A central concern is the Central American Integration System (Sica) and its political body, the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN).

The former surgeon turned politician also plans to speak with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez-Obrador. An objective being the formulation of ‘economic zones’ along their shared border to create jobs, construct homes, and improve public infrastructure in the region.