Saturday, July 13, 2024

Secretary Antony J. Blinken, Mexican Foreign Secretary Alicia Bárcena, and Guatemalan Foreign Minister Carlos Ramiro Martínez before the U.S.-Mexico-Guatemala Trilateral Migration Ministerial Meeting

Secretary Antony J. Blinken, Mexican Foreign Secretary Alicia Bárcena, and Guatemalan Foreign Minister Carlos Ramiro Martínez before the U.S.-Mexico-Guatemala Trilateral Migration Ministerial Meeting

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you and good morning, everyone.  Alicia, Carlos Ramiro, colleagues – welcome.  It’s wonderful to have you here today.  We have the opportunity today to host two of our most important partners in the region, Mexico and Guatemala.  And I have to tell you how much we appreciate the cooperation and the collaboration that we’ve had starting, of course, with the López Obrador administration.  I had the opportunity speaking to this yesterday to note that, at least from my perspective, the collaboration, the work between the governments of Mexico and the United States has never been stronger, never been greater.  The challenges are also significant but we are facing them together across the board, and that’s something that the United States deeply appreciates.

And indeed, the collaboration that we have in many ways represents a model for what we would hope to see throughout our hemisphere, including with Guatemala.  And here I have to say how much we both appreciate and admire the work of the new Arévalo administration – very, very pleased to see the transition take place and the government not only in place but acting strongly to meet the challenges of our moment, including the challenge of irregular migration.  And of course, we know as Mexico heads into an election season as well, we wish our Mexican friends every success.

Today we are really here to double down on the collaboration that we have in dealing with migration flows.  We know that all of us are living in what is genuinely a historic time – around the world, more people on the move than at any time in recorded history, and the same is true of course in our own hemisphere.  We have a shared commitment to safe, orderly, humane migration, and we want to make sure that the work that we are doing continues to move us in that direction.

At the same time, I think we’re all well attuned to the importance of focusing on root causes.  In effect, people should have a right to remain in their own countries, but that means that the conditions have to exist that really make it not only possible but attractive for them to remain.  The bottom line for so many people around the world is if you can’t put food on the table for your kids, you’ll try to figure out anything necessary to do that, including leaving your own country, your own community, your own family, your own language, your own culture.  So creating those opportunities is a critical piece of addressing this challenge.  Vice President Harris has led a major effort that’s producing major results in terms of private-sector investment in Guatemala, in Honduras, in El Salvador.  We’ve already seen results, and those results are translating into new opportunities for people at home.

We also, of course, are looking at other important things that we can and should be doing together, including expanding lawful pathways to migration, including expanding protection for migrants, including supporting and expanding the processes of asylum and other ways for people in other countries to stay where they are.

So in all of these areas our countries are working together, and that only underscores the fact that when it comes to irregular migration we have to meet this together, not only among Mexico, Guatemala, and the United States but all the countries in our region.  That was the spirit of the Los Angeles Declaration and of the meeting that took place during the Summit of the Americas, a commitment by countries of origin, countries of transit, countries of destination to work together, because no single country can effectively deal with this challenge alone.

So I’m looking very much forward today to hearing from our colleagues about the progress that we’ve made.  And of course, we’ve had intense collaboration with Mexico, including in recent weeks, with multiple virtually monthly high-level meetings among us and then weekly – even daily – engagements among our officials.  And I look forward as well to talking about how we can move forward with the Los Angeles Declaration and the work that we will be doing there.

So with that, again, welcome to everyone.  Alicia, let me turn it over to you.

FOREIGN SECRETARY BÁRCENA:  (Via interpreter) Thank you very much and good morning, everyone.  Dear Secretary Antony Blinken, dear friend Alejandro Mayorkas, Liz Sherwood-Randall, Richard Verma, Isobel Coleman, Lisa Monaco, Ken, dear friend Carlos Ramiro, Antonio Escobedo, Francisco Villagran, Vivian Arenas – good morning.  It’s such a pleasure to have you across the table this morning.

I wanted to extend the warmest greetings, first of all, from our president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and especially thank Secretary Blinken for the warm welcome he has given us once again in Washington, both to the Mexican delegation with me – we are very well represented here with our ambassador Esteban Moctezuma, with Martín Borrego, Christina Planter, Ana Luisa Fajer – and I would like to say to you that I believe that we have a unique opportunity at this trilateral meeting between the U.S., Guatemala, and Mexico.

It truly is a pleasure to work with Carlos Ramiro and with Antony Blinken in these efforts.  Mexico shares thousands of kilometers with Guatemala and the U.S., and this is a deep-rooted history.  And the symbolism of brotherhood with no borders is what brings us together today.

Guatemala and Mexico share common cultural roots over the millennia.  Our common dream has seen a civilization rise, perhaps one of the largest in the Americas, which is from the Maya culture.  And last August we were happy to attend the democratic ceremony whereby Guatemala resolved to elect as its leader Bernardo Arévalo in January of this year.  We made a call to the Government of Guatemala so that this constitutional mandate would go into effect.  I believe that this has happened, and President Bernardo Arévalo, Karin Herrera, the vice president, have a bright path ahead of them.  The Mexican Government applauds the fact that this transfer of power did take place, and we affirm our firm support for Bernardo Arévalo and his administration.

In the framework of respect for our sovereignty, Mexico reiterates its interest in strengthening this relationship between Guatemala and the U.S. with Mexico.  The difficult paths that migrants in our continent take towards the north to seek better and more opportunities in life is transcendental.  It stops at the line that separates the U.S. and Mexico, and Chiapas, Campeche, Tabasco, with Guatemalan provinces. These geographical circumstances means that as countries, we face most of the cycles of the migration process.  Guatemala and Mexico are origin, transit, destination, and return.  And beyond that, we have the human reality.  This links us as countries that must work together to face migration and solve these challenges.

That is why I’m glad we have a shared vision and we have worked bilaterally with the U.S.  And I feel very proud of that because, as Secretary Blinken said, this is the best time of our relationship, but we also face the greatest challenges of our history, possibly.  So I think that finding solutions to these challenges with a more regional perspective will truly be transcendental, and I think it will be unheard of because we are developing a unique migration model.  And that is the truth.

I think that this can even be a model for other regions throughout the world to go beyond unilateralism and things that are simply situation-based.   I think – I would say that we are very excited about finding specific measures for cooperation, for the development of our societies, for a holistic vision, the well-being of our people, and to transform human mobility from a condition that is imposed to an option.

We look at migrants as people who are moving for work.  That is what we see.  We see people who are seeking opportunities.  And that is why we believe that this is a time where to turn migration into an option and not an obligation, we need to look at the root causes.  And that is one of the topics on our agenda that will be a very important one.  And the second one will be:  how do we strengthen regular pathways for labor mobility?  Deep down, then, how do we help people who are seeking opportunities to find them?

And that is why we need to mobilize our industrial sector.  We need to mobilize the private sector and really all stakeholders involved.  And I think that Guatemala as a country historically has been characterized by a search, a long-enduring search for peace and well-being of their people, Mexico and the United States as well.  But Guatemala is a country of illustrious people such as Juan José Arévalo, Miguel Ángel [Asturias], Jacobo Árbenz, who are well-remembered; Rigoberta Menchú, whose words are still very much relevant today.  And that is why I would say, in the words of Rigoberta Menchú, peace is not only the absence of war.  As long as there is poverty, racism, and discrimination and exclusion, it will be difficult for us to achieve peace in the world.

Thank you very much.  We are ready for a very productive agenda with concrete results.

FOREIGN MINISTER MARTÍNEZ (Via interpreter) Good morning.  Thank you very much to our hosts, to the U.S. delegation led by Secretaries Blinken and Mayorkas.  Thank you to Mexico, Alicia Bárcena, foreign minister, and Mexican officials of the delegation.

I would like to start by thanking the U.S. and Mexico for the support you provided my country.  And I say my country and not an elected administration because it was truly Guatemala that received your support in our search for a space to ensure democracy, for respect for our votes, so that President Arévalo, the president-elect, could take power on a long, long day on January 14th.  There were difficult months, and you were with us throughout them.  And we received significant support from the international community as well, and I believe that if that had not been the case, I would not be sitting here today in this room speaking to you.

I think that the commitment of President Arévalo’s administration is clear and evident.  It is clear in the sense that we must keep working with the U.S. and with Mexico on these issues – in this specific case, irregular migration.  But we have a vast agenda for cooperation, investment, dialogue that bring us together that bring us closer, and this is the fundamental goal of the work of the current administration, the Arévalo administration.

With Mexico, as Secretary Bárcena said, we share a history, we share a border, and therefore we also share a series of common challenges that we are trying to manage the best way possible with the support, of course, of the United States.  The challenge of irregular migration, as Secretary Blinken said, in order to make it safe, orderly, and humane, this is fundamental.  We need to look at the causes; we need to look at the roots of this phenomenon.

Sometimes it’s called a problem, the migration – irregular migration problem.  We see it as a phenomenon, not a problem.  And we believe that behind this, of course, there is a fundamental task for the Guatemalan state.  We are the first who must manage the needs of our population.  We must create and provide opportunities so that our people do not migrate, so that these flows of Guatemalans seeking opportunities do not continue to grow.  So the first task is a task for the Guatemalan state.

And of course, we must work along with the international community and with any support that you can provide so that we can create a space for opportunities and possibilities because in the long term the issue is really development.  Root causes – these may be words that we add to a word that sums it all up, which is development.  That’s what we don’t have.  We have deficiencies in Guatemala.  We have accumulated social debt over decades.  This is an effort that, even if we work over the next four years, we will not correct this scenario, but rather we want to build a foundation upon which to build a new country.

I think, as has been mentioned, we need to broaden legal pathways, such as via temporary work.  That is a clear measure for support, for assistance.  We must explore regular pathways for labor mobility.  This is a joint task, as has been mentioned.  A single country cannot manage this issue alone.  We have seen how the phenomena has broadened and expanded to other regions, regions I won’t mention, but it used to be there was barely a trickle; now there are great migration flows, irregular migration.

So the work needs to revolve around joint work among countries.  We must have a comprehensive view of the phenomena, and we must, as states, be responsible.  But other stakeholders must be as well.  We can’t cast the private sector aside.  That is a basic instrument as well when it comes to creating jobs.  Guatemala as an origin, transit destination, and return country is committed, and we would like to express this today at this table.  We are committed to find solutions for working together and cooperating with the United States and Mexico.  Thank you very much.

Official news published at https://www.state.gov/secretary-antony-j-blinken-mexican-foreign-secretary-alicia-barcena-and-guatemalan-foreign-minister-carlos-ramiro-martinez-before-the-u-s-mexico-guatemala-trilateral-migration-ministerial-meeting/

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