Vice President Kamala Harris is in Guatemala to meet with President Alejandro Giammattei, and during their joint press conference Monday, the vice president said anyone thinking about making the risky trek to the US-Mexico border should not come.
"Most people don't want to leave where their grandmother lives", Harris said.
Asked about Giammattei's record on corruption, and why she believes he can be trusted as a partner on this issue, Harris managed to skirt the question, stating simply that the Biden administration's stance is "unambiguous: We will root out corruption wherever we can".
Record numbers of people, mostly from Central America, have come to the US border with Mexico in recent months to try to seek asylum, fleeing violence and corruption.
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She said that a task force combining resources from the Justice, State and Treasury departments would work with local prosecutors to punish corrupt actors in Central America.
But those efforts have been undermined by corruption scandals and resistance to USA -backed judges known for their commitment to fighting graft, as well as concerns that the region is drifting towards more authoritarian tendencies.
Vice President Harris had what she called "robust" talks with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei.
In an interview with CBS News as Ms Harris visits his country following her appointment to lead the Biden administration's response to the surge of migration at the US' southern border, Alejandro Giammattei stressed that the two sides differ over how to address the problem, but not in their beliefs regarding its causes. "What fight against corruption is she talking about?"
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Harris is expected to focus on economic development, climate and food insecurity, women and young people during her trip to the region, according to her staff.
In Guatemala, the vice president will also meet with Guatemalan community leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs as well as greet and thank USA embassy staff.
Harris discussed sharing COVID-19 vaccines with Guatemala during the meeting, she said.
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