Texas Democrat sides with Guatemalan president: 'not how you treat an ally'

Texas Democrat sides with Guatemalan president: 'not how you treat an ally'
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Texas Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez backed Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei on Friday after he said the United States has not treated the Central American country like an ally during the coronavirus pandemic.

"I recognize President Giammattei for courageously exposing the sad state of affairs between our two nations," said Gonzalez in a statement.

Speaking over Zoom at a conference with Jason Marczak, director of the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, Giammattei said the United States had withheld medical aid to his country.

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“Guatemala is an ally of the United States, but I don’t believe the U.S. is an ally to Guatemala, because they don’t treat us like one,” said Giammattei on Thursday.

Gonzalez characterized U.S. policy toward Guatemala as "blatantly strong-arming your neighbor into complying with a xenophobic, America First agenda."

"Withholding life-saving resources is not how you treat an ally, particularly during a public health and economic crisis of this scale that is sure to have severe follow-on effects in the developing world," said Gonzalez.

Giammattei also complained about deportation flights, which he recognized as a right of the United States, but questioned why "they send the flights all contaminated," meaning not properly screening coronavirus-positive deportees.

At least 119 such deportees have been jetted by U.S. authorities to Guatemala, increasing the threat of contagion in Central America's largest country.

"We need benevolent, thoughtful leadership and cooperation not intimidation and deprivation. Our survival as a country, a hemisphere, and an international community depends on it," wrote Gonzalez.

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Gonzalez, whose Texas border district is heavily dependent on trade with Mexico, is a proponent of closer cooperation with hemispheric allies.

"Now more than ever, we should acknowledge the importance of the Americas in the realm of our own national security. For it is our very neighbors who have stood with us during our most complicated global struggles, and it is they who we will count on in the post-pandemic world," said Gonzalez.

"The Administration has chosen to take an un-American path during this global pandemic. Time and time again, the Trump administration continues to alienate our friends and tarnish the United States’ credibility as an ally on the world stage," he added.