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

SECRETARY BLINKING: Thank you and good morning everyone. Alicia, Carlos Ramiro, colleagues – welcome. It’s wonderful to have you here today. Today we have the opportunity 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 cooperation that we have had, starting of course with the López Obrador administration. I had the opportunity to speak on this topic yesterday and noted that the cooperation and work between the governments of Mexico and the United States, at least from my point of view, has never been stronger and never greater. The challenges are great, too, but we face them together head on, and that is something the United States deeply appreciates.

And in fact, the cooperation that we have is in many ways a model for what we want across our hemisphere, including with Guatemala. And here I have to say how much we both appreciate and admire the work of the new Arévalo government – we are very, very pleased that the transition has taken place and that the government is not only in power but also acting decisively to to overcome the challenges of our time, the challenge of irregular migration. And of course we know that Mexico is also facing an election season and we wish our Mexican friends every success.

Today we are really here to double the cooperation we have in dealing with migration flows. We know that we are all living in a truly historic time – there are more people on the run around the world than ever before in history, and of course the same is true in our own hemisphere. We are collectively committed to safe, orderly and humane migration and want to ensure that the work we do continues to move in this direction.

At the same time, I think we all realize how important it is to focus on the causes. In fact, people should have the right to stay in their own country, but that means that the conditions must be in place that make it not only possible but also attractive for them to stay there. The bottom line for so many people around the world is that if you can’t put food on the table for your children, you will try to figure out whatever it takes to do that, including leaving your own country, your own community, Your own family, your own language, your own culture. Therefore, creating these opportunities is a crucial factor in addressing this challenge. Vice President Harris has led major efforts that have yielded great results in terms of private sector investment in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. We’ve already seen results, and those results are leading to new opportunities for people at home.

We are, of course, also looking at other important things that we can and should do together, including expanding lawful migration pathways, including expanding protections for migrants, including supporting and expanding asylum procedures and other pathways for people to remain in other countries where they are.

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

So today I’m really looking forward to hearing from our colleagues about the progress we’ve made. And of course we have also been working intensively with Mexico in recent weeks, with several virtually monthly high-level meetings among ourselves and then weekly – even daily – meetings of our officials. And I also look forward to talking about how we can move forward with the Los Angeles Declaration and what work we will do there.

With this in mind, a warm welcome again to everyone. Alicia, let me hand it to you.

FOREIGN MINISTER BÁRCENA: (Through interpreter) Thank you 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 is a great pleasure to have you at the table this morning.

I would first like to convey the warmest greetings from our President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and especially thank Secretary Blinken for the warm welcome he once again gave us in Washington, both the Mexican delegation and myself – we are doing very well here with our representatives Ambassador Esteban Moctezuma, with Martín Borrego, Christina Planter, Ana Luisa Fajer – and I want to tell you that I believe we have a unique opportunity in this trilateral meeting between the United States, Guatemala and Mexico.

It is truly a pleasure to work with Carlos Ramiro and Antony Blinken on this effort. Mexico shares thousands of kilometers with Guatemala and the United States, and that has a deep-rooted history. And the symbolism of brotherhood without borders is what brings us together today.

Guatemala and Mexico have shared cultural roots for thousands of years. Our shared dream saw the emergence of a civilization, perhaps one of the largest in the Americas, dating back to the Mayan culture. And last August we were happy to witness the democratic ceremony at which Guatemala decided to elect Bernardo Arévalo as its leader in January of this year. We have made a call to the government of Guatemala to put this constitutional mandate into effect. I believe that this has happened and that President Bernardo Arévalo and Karin Herrera, the Vice President, have a promising path ahead. The Mexican government welcomes the fact that this transfer of power has taken place and we reiterate our firm support for Bernardo Arévalo and his government.

As part of respecting our sovereignty, Mexico reiterates its interest in strengthening this Guatemala-U.S. relationship with Mexico. The difficult journeys that migrants take northwards on our continent to find better and greater life opportunities are transcendent. It stops on the line that separates the United States and Mexico as well as Chiapas, Campeche, Tabasco and the Guatemalan provinces. Due to these geographical circumstances, we as countries face the most cycles of the migration process. Guatemala and Mexico are origin, transit, destination and return. And beyond that we have human reality. This unites us as countries that must work together to address migration and solve these challenges.

That’s why I’m glad that we have a common vision and have worked bilaterally with the US. I’m very proud of that because, as Secretary Blinken said, this is the best time of our relationship, but we are also facing, perhaps, the greatest challenges in our history. So I think finding solutions to these challenges with a more regional perspective will be truly transcendent and I think this will be unprecedented as we develop a unique migration model. And this is the truth.

I think this can even be a model for other regions of the world to move beyond unilateralism and mere situational dependencies. I think – I would say that we are very excited to see concrete measures for cooperation, for the development of our societies, for a holistic vision, the well-being of our people and the transformation of human mobility from a condition that is imposed on us, to develop an option.

We view migrants as people who move for work reasons. That’s what we see. We see people looking for opportunities. And that is why we believe that this is a time to make migration an option and not an obligation. We need to address the root causes. And this is one of the issues on our agenda that will be very important. And the second question will be: How do we strengthen regular pathways for labor mobility? Then, deep down, how do we help people who are looking for opportunities find them?

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

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

FOREIGN MINISTER MARTINEZ: (Through interpreter) Good morning. Many thanks to our hosts, to the US delegation led by Ministers Blinken and Mayorkas. Thank you to Mexico, Alicia Bárcena, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Mexican officials in the delegation.

First of all, I would like to thank the United States and Mexico for the support you have given my country. And I say my country and not an elected government, because it was really Guatemala that received your support in our search for a space to ensure democracy and respect our voices so that President Arévalo, the elected president, can take power long, long day on January 14th. These have been difficult months and you have been with us throughout. And we have also received significant support from the international community, and I believe that if it had not been the case, I would not be sitting here in this room speaking to you today.

I think that the commitment of President Arévalo’s government is clear and unambiguous. It is therefore clear that we must continue to work with the USA and Mexico on these issues – in this specific case of irregular migration. But we have a comprehensive agenda of cooperation, investment and dialogue that brings us together and brings us closer, and that is the fundamental aim of the work of the current government, the Arévalo government.

With Mexico, as Minister 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 overcome in the best possible way, of course with the support of the United States. The challenge of irregular migration, as Secretary Blinken said, is fundamental to making it safe, orderly and humane. We need to address the causes; We need to address the roots of this phenomenon.

Sometimes it is called a problem, migration – the problem of irregular migration. We see it as a phenomenon, not a problem. And we believe that there is of course a fundamental task of the Guatemalan state behind this. We are the first to address the needs of our population. We must create and provide opportunities so that our population does not migrate and this flow of Guatemalans looking for opportunities does not continue to grow. The first task is therefore a task for the Guatemalan state.

And of course we need to work with the international community and with whatever support you can provide so that we can create a space for opportunity and possibility, because in the long term it is really about development. Root causes – these can be words that we add to one word that sums it all up, which is development. That’s what we don’t have. We have deficits in Guatemala. We have accumulated social debt for decades. Even if we work on it in the next four years, we will not correct this scenario, but rather create a foundation on which we can build a new country.

I think, as already mentioned, we need to expand legal channels, for example through temporary work. This is a clear measure of support and help. We need to explore regular avenues for labor mobility. As mentioned, this is a community task. No single country can tackle this problem alone. We have seen the phenomenon expand and spread to other regions, regions I will not mention, but previously there was barely a trickle; Now there are large migration flows, irregular migration.

The work must therefore focus on joint work between countries. We must take a comprehensive view of the phenomena and take responsibility as states. But there must also be other stakeholders. We cannot ignore the private sector. This is also a fundamental tool when it comes to job creation. Guatemala as a country of origin, transit destination and return is committed and we would like to express that at this table today. We are committed to finding solutions for collaboration and collaboration with the United States and Mexico. Thank you.

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