GUATEMALA CITY – Guatemala and Mexico, which share a land frontier of more than 960 kilometers (595 miles), on Tuesday agreed to continue working to modernize infrastructure in the border zone to facilitate the safe and humane passage of migrants, as well as cross-border trade.
The presidents of the two nations – Guatemala’s Jimmy Morales and Mexico’s Enrique Peña Nieto – met privately in Guatemala City and later appeared before reporters, although they took no questions, to announce that they will support each other in the fight for dignified and legal migration.
“Our border has potential to be a safe, prosperous and dynamic zone. So, we’re working on priority issues to achieve better Central American integration,” said Peña Nieto, who announced that the pair had agreed “to banish the rhetoric of hatred and discrimination” against migrants.
The two countries are, the presidents said, very similar, possessing extensive cultural roots and diplomatic relations dating back to 1848. They are both nations that are the “origin, transit zones and destination of migrants,” he said, a problem that needs to be combated in terms of its structural causes while protecting human rights.
“Let migration become ... an option and not a necessity,” said the Mexican leader, who – with his first state visit to Guatemala – is seeking to reaffirm “the ties of brotherhood” with “more fluid ... and frank” dialogue.
Morales, in turn, emphasized that he was ready to deal with irregular migration in a comprehensive way, adding that he had discussed that issue and development, security, trade, investment and the environment with his Mexican counterpart.
He thanked Peña Nieto and the Mexican officials for treating the issue of Guatemalan migrants intercepted in Mexican territory in a “very serious and responsible” way, and he asked that their deportation back to their homeland be facilitated.
The two presidents, who were meeting for the fifth time, also spoke about investment – signing four accords on trade, diplomacy and social security with the aim of increasing cooperation – and announced the opening of a $30 million Lala milk production plant in the southern Guatemalan province of Escuintla that will provide a total of some 16,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Preliminary Bank of Guatemala figures indicate that in 2016 Guatemala exported products valued at about $459 million to Mexico, while the trade flow in the opposite direction totaled $1.94 billion.