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News > Guatemala

Guatemala: Social Organizations Reject Safe Third Country Deal

  • Guatemalan woman and her son begging a Mexican National Guard official to let them cross into the U.S. as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico July 22, 2019.

    Guatemalan woman and her son begging a Mexican National Guard official to let them cross into the U.S. as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico July 22, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 27 July 2019

Human rights defenders have denounced that President Morales yielded to  U.S. pressure and threats.

Guatemalan human rights defenders and social leaders have called on the people to protest with pots every day at 6:00 P.M. local time to reject the agreement signed by their government in Washington on Friday, an unconstitutional deal which forces migrants, potentially from any country, to request their asylum status in Guatemala.


Guatemala Caves to U.S. Pressure, Signs 3rd Country Agreement

In a press conference held in front of the headquarters of the Constitutional Court, social justice organizations denounced a "technical coup d'etat" and requested the immediate resignation of Guatemala's President Jimmy Morales, Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart and Foreign Affairs Minister Sandra Jovel.

"The signing of the agreement is a contempt for the Constitutional Court's decision," the co-founder of the Association for the Study and Promotion of Security in Democracy (SEDEM), Iduvina Hernandez, said and recalled that the Court ruled previously that the Third Safe Country (TSC) agreement cannot be signed without prior knowledge and approval of the Guatemalan Congress.

On Friday afternoon, however, U.S. President Donald Trump asked the media to enter the Oval Office to attend a ceremony in which Guatemala's minister Degenhart signed an agreement that will force migrants to request asylum in their country instead of requesting it at the U.S. territory.

"We've long been working with Guatemala and now we can do it the right way. It's going to be terrific for them and for the U.S.," said Trump who believes "this landmark agreement will put the coyotes and the smugglers out of business."

Third Safe Country: the U.S. will transfer asylum seekers to Guatemala. Although they denied it until the last moment, Enrique Degenhart compromised the country.

A few hours later, organizations such as Batucada del Pueblo, Positive People Association and Human Rights Convergence, demanded the Constitutional Court to halt the arbitrary actions of Morales and the "corrupt pact."

There are many doubts about the real scope of the STC agreement, which was clearly signed by the Morales administration as consequence of U.S. threats.

Social organizations argue that Guatemala should not finance the costs of becoming a safe third country because 70 percent of its population lives in poverty, 46 percent of children under five has chronic malnutrition and the state only invests 3 percent of GDP in education.

"Instead of defending sovereignty and seeking national welfare, Jimmy and his ministers show only full submission to the designs of the Northern power. Therefore, they must quit," Hernandez said and denounced that they are trying to convert Guatemala in "a new concentration camp" for migrants.

"All this has a purpose: they want to remain in power. And we will not allow it," Gabriela Davila, the Positive People Association spokeswoman, warned.

Guatemala's Human Rights Prosecutor Jordan Rodas also expressed concern about the STC agreement and asked Congress not to approve the Washington document because the function of signing international conventions, which is not delegable, cannot be exercised by ministers.

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