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News > Guatemala

President Morales to Negotiate 'Safe Country' Agreement with US

  • Soldiers guard a checkpoint during a new 'temporary' state of siege at the Mariscos municipality, Guatemala, Sep. 10, 2019.

    Soldiers guard a checkpoint during a new 'temporary' state of siege at the Mariscos municipality, Guatemala, Sep. 10, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 11 September 2019

Despite having lived more than 44 states of exception over the last two decades, Guatemala is about to be declared a "safe territory" for asylum seekers.

The Guatemalan Constitutional Court announced on Tuesday the revocation of a protective action that prevented President Jimmy Morales from negotiating an agreement with the United States to turn Guatemala into a "Safe Third Country" (STC).


Guatemala Imposes Siege for 30 Days, Rights Groups Protest

"It has been accepted the request for revocation of the protective action made by the President of the Republic of Guatemala, who has the constitutional power to direct international politics and relations."

President Morales, who celebrated the ruling of the Constitutional Court, said his officials will continue to negotiate the immigration agreement signed with the United States.

"Now they can continue, for all the negotiation processes were stopped," said Morales who believes that Article 172 of the Constitution does not limit the Executive Branch "so that it can sign an agreement under the conditions presented by the cooperation agreement for issues migratory. ”

The signing of the STC agreement requested by President Donald Trump will probably be the last major international policy action that Morales will carry out, for he will deliver the presidency on January 14, 2020.

His successor, the President-elect Alejandro Giammattei, a center-right politician who has been described by the U.S. mainstream outlets as a possible "headache" for the Trump Administration, expressed his disagreement with the possibility of transforming Guatemala into an STC territory.

This position has also been raised by many political analysts, human rights defenders and social leaders who have repeatedly stressed that, besides lacking financial resources and adequate infrastructure to house thousands of asylum seekers, Guatemala is an insecure country even for its own citizens.

This diagnosis can be verified in the official crime figures but also in the number of times that the Guatemalan authorities have declared ruptures of the normal legal order as a measure to control domestic events.

According to data published by local media Deguate, there have been over 44 "states of exception" in Guatemala since 1996, all of which were declared officially.

Arguing that insurgency, "insecurity" and ungovernability have increased in Guatemala, President Morales decreed on Sep. 4 a new state of exception for 30 days, a period during which political and citizen rights will be restricted.

In the midst of this, the outgoing Guatemalan government is rushing to negotiate an international agreement which emerged after the U.S. President would threaten this Central American country with economic sanctions.

Previously, however, the Constitutional Court warned Morales that he could not sign a STC agreement without the Congress knowing its contents.

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