Immigration: US agreement not sustainable, says Guatemala president-elect

Newly elected president of Guatemala wants to change US migrant deal

Guatemalans have chosen Alejandro Giammattei, a conservative who once led the country's prison system, to be their next president. Voter turnout was low, reflecting a deep sense of mistrust with the country's politicians. Preliminary results showed Giammattei won almost 58%of the vote, and less than half of eligible Guatemalans cast ballots, according to the country's electoral tribunal. "He is a friend of Israel and I am convinced that together we will strengthen the excellent cooperation between the countries", Netanyahu said in a statement. President Donald Trump has threatened Guatemala with tariffs and other consequences if it does not do more to stop the flow of migrants transiting from and through it to the USA border.

"I understand President Trump's position", in the perspective of the campaign, said Giammattei. The agreement designated Guatemala as a "safe third country", despite thousands of Guatemalans migrating to the USA border this year. Giammattei will succeed corruption-tainted outgoing President Jimmy Morales, who leaves office in January.

Giammattei cast himself as ready for the job.

"The aim is fulfilled", said Giammattei, a 63-year-old doctor who was defeated in three previous runs for president.

"If we don't have the capacity to look after our own people, imagine what it will be like for foreigners", Giammattei added. One of Morales's last acts as president was to authorize an agreement with the U.S. administration of Donald Trump designating Guatemala as a "safe third country", which would permit Washington to turn away asylum seekers who didn't seek refuge when passing through Guatemala. They were fleeing extreme violence, poverty and food insecurity. But more than half of the eight million registered voters abstained, suggesting a fed-up electorate disenchanted with both candidates. Former military officers who were accused of war crimes joined Giammattei's political party, The Associated Press reported.

Mr Giammattei noted that since a USA judge had already suspended a separate safe third country accord, there was a chance that the deal with Guatemala could change.

The case against him was eventually dismissed.

The commission submitted hundreds of convictions to the Guatemalan Congress. Morales, a former comedian, was entangled in an investigation for allegedly accepting illegal campaign contributions.

The CICIG is a trusted institution that has actively worked alongside prosecutors to bring down high-level officials such as the incumbent president, judges, and business people for corruption and other charges.

KAHN: That's a big ask, given what a awful job the outgoing president did, says Paula Rosales, who's selling colorful Guatemalan trinkets outside the church.

KAHN: "Really, the future is in his hands, and we don't know exactly what he's going to do".

The agreement is also highly unpopular in Guatemala.

"The mandate has been terminated; the United Nations accepted that", he said. "We have a lot to lose if our relationship with the United States goes south".

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