Guatemala says it didn’t sign deal with US to increase border security
The government of Guatemala on Tuesday pushed back against claims from the White House earlier this week that it had signed an agreement with the U.S. to increase security at their border.
The statement, which says there is no “signed document” between the two countries relating to border security, points to an influx in troops sent to the border earlier this year.
It comes after White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday told reporters that the Biden administration had secured a deal with the Central American nation along with Mexico and Honduras to increase the number of personnel at their borders.
“The objective is to make it more difficult to make the journey, and make crossing the borders more more difficult,” Psaki said Monday. “We worked with them to increase law enforcement at the border to deter the travel, which is a treacherous journey.”
“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,” she added later.
In its Spanish language statement, Guatemala says the 1,500 troops were sent to the border in January of this year in response to 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,” the statement says.
Really interesting. Guatemala says that it has NOT signed any kind of agreement with the United States on border security, but says they “maintain their commitment to fortifying border security.”
— Aaron Reichlin-Melnick (@ReichlinMelnick) April 13, 2021
Psaki on Monday had been slim on details about when the agreements had been signed, saying only that they were signed within recent weeks.
“The United States, Mexico and Northern Triangle governments have worked closely together to implement collaborative migration measures to discourage irregular migration. Countries have deployed security personnel, migration officials, and other officials involved in migration management to contend with this shared challenge,” a White House spokesperson said Tuesday when asked about Guatemala’s statement.
White House Domestic Policy Council aide Tyler Moran, who spoke Monday on MSNBC, had characterized the agreements as a way to blunt the influence of cartels.
“We’ve secured agreements for them to put more troops on their own border. Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala have all agreed to do this. 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,” Moran said.
At Monday’s briefing, Paski said Mexico would maintain a presence of 10,000 troops along its southern border while Honduras “surged 7,000 police and military to disperse a large contingent of migrants.”