Harris discusses pandemic, migration during visit with new Honduran president

Vice President Kamala Harris gives remarks in Statuary Hall of the U.S Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, January 6, 2022 to mark the year anniversary of the attack on the Capitol.
Greg Nash

Vice President Harris on Thursday met one-on-one with the newly inaugurated president of Honduras, where the two discussed additional U.S. COVID-19 vaccine donations and root causes of migration.

Harris attended the inauguration of Honduran President Xiomara Castro and held a bilateral meeting afterward with Castro, her first meeting with a foreign leader.

“They discussed deepening our cooperation across a broad range of issues, including addressing the root causes of migration, combatting corruption, and expanding economic opportunity,” the vice president’s office said in a readout of the meeting.

During the meeting, Harris told Castro the U.S. would donate “several hundred thousand” COVID-19 vaccine doses in the next two months in addition to the more than 3 million doses the Biden administration has already sent to Honduras.

In a bid to help Honduran schools remain open, Harris said the Biden administration would provide more than 500,000 pediatric syringes and $1.35 million in funding for refurbishment of educational and health facilities. The administration will also give $500,000 in funding to support the Honduran government’s communications campaign and to boost vaccination deployment, the vice president’s office said.

The two leaders also discussed root causes of migration, which is something Harris has been tasked with addressing since last spring. She previously visited Guatemala and Mexico as part of that effort, urging migrants at the time not to come to the United States.

During Thursday’s meeting, Harris “emphasized that combating corruption and impunity remains at the center of our commitment to address the root causes of migration.” The two discussed how boosting the Honduran economy could help incentivize remaining in the country rather than migrating to the United States.

The two women also discussed concerns about gender-based violence in Honduras, which has plagued the country for many years.

Harris was scheduled to return to Washington, D.C., late Thursday.

Castro, a democratic socialist, won the country’s November election to become the first woman to serve as Honduras’s president. She had pledged to introduce a new welfare payment for poor households and senior citizens, to tax the rich and allow the central bank to lend the treasury in emergencies.

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