U.S. Plans Action Against Central American Trafficking and Smuggling

The Biden administration is expected to announce actions against trafficking and smuggling, and also hopes to launch new anti-corruption measures, during Monday’s visit to Guatemala by Vice President Kamala Harris.

Corruption makes up a large percentage of the gross domestic product in the region, said Ricardo Zuniga, special envoy for the Northern Triangle. That in turn led to migration, which has had an impact on the U.S. and Mexico, he said at a briefing in Guatemala City ahead of Harris’s meeting Monday morning with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei.

“Looking at the impact of corruption is something that we’re doing in all of our relationships and it is also a key part of trying to get at the root causes” of why people leave their homes, Nancy McEldowney, national security adviser to the Vice President, said at the same briefing.

Harris landed in Guatemala City late Sunday, the first stop on her inaugural international trip since taking office. In additional to Giammattei, she will also meet with local entrepreneurs and community leaders, before traveling to Mexico in the evening.

A senior administration official noted that President Joe Biden had made commitments to combat corruption during his 2020 campaign, and said Harris aimed to begin delivering on them during her trip.

While Harris is meeting with the leader of only one of the three countries that make up the Northern Triangle of Central America, administration officials say they’re also working with El Salvador and Honduras.

Zuniga had a three-hour meeting with El Salvador President Nayib Bukele in May, an official said.

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