The Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, qualified this Thursday afternoon her support for the press and non-governmental organizations by explaining that her criticism was only directed at Guatemala and does not include Mexico. The clarification from its spokesperson, Symone Sanders, came hours after an interview with the Efe agency in which he asked both countries to protect freedom of the press and civil organizations.
The initial statement was widely disseminated, as it came after criticism launched by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who pointed to the Agency for Development Cooperation (USAID) as responsible for “financing the coup.” by supporting some organizations that the president considers oppositional.
The interview revealed that, during his meetings on Monday and Tuesday with the President of Mexico and Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei, he asked them to let NGOs and the press in their countries “do their job” without hindrance. This is the textual response by telephone from the vice president:
P. Part of its strategy is to work more with civil society and the private sector, but in Guatemala, for example, there is a law that has just been endorsed that can threaten the survival of many NGOs. And the president of Mexico has warned the United States not to finance some organizations (such as Article 19 and Mexicans against Corruption and Impunity). How can the United States ensure that it is strengthening civil society there, if some governments in the region try to limit its activities?
R. Let me tell you that I raised that issue, because it is a specific concern that I have. It is an issue that deeply concerns me, because we want to make sure that there is independence: an independent judicial system, an independent press, and that non-profit organizations, NGOs, can do their work without interference. I made that very clear. And I must tell you that I was very frank with both President (Alejandro) Giammattei and President (Andrés Manuel) López Obrador about the concerns I have about corruption and impunity, and I was very direct with each of them regarding those concerns. .
Harris later clarified through a spokeswoman that he was only referring to Guatemala and the controversial reform of the law on non-governmental organizations promoted by the official party and that Mexico was out of these criticisms despite the fact that the Government of Mexico that has complained repeatedly to the United States for financing organizations such as Article 19 and Mexicans against Corruption and Impunity (MCCI), whom López Obrador calls “coup plotters” and “opponents.”
The controversy over USAID and its role as a funder has irritated the president in recent weeks, who sent a letter calling for an end to this type of support. According to its data, MCCI has received 50 million pesos (about 2.5 million dollars) from the US cooperation in the last three years.
Although it is an apparently minor issue in a bilateral agenda as broad as that of the United States and Mexico, the matter has become an obsession for the president who thus intends to suffocate the organization that has revealed some of the cases. corruption crimes or the NGO Article 19, which has worked to protect dozens of threatened journalists in Mexico. This is the only way to explain the dimension of the terms used by the president in reference to the United States as: “mockery”, “violation of our sovereignty” or “financing of coup plotters.”
The clarification made by Harris coincides with the statements of Tuesday by the Foreign Minister, Marcelo Ebrard, who denied at the end of the official visit that there had been any talk about the financing of civil organizations. Was anything said about maintaining funding to organizations that are against corruption, or supposedly against corruption, as the Vice President had stated in Guatemala? Ebrard was asked “Well, there was not that conversation and, It is probably due (…) to the fact that Mexico has two characteristics: a full democracy and that the president wants to end corruption, ”he replied.
Harris’s interview came after criticism received within the United States after his meteoric trip to Mexico and Guatemala. While Republicans reproach him for not having been on the border – where Trump aspired to build the wall – Democrats criticize the harsh anti-immigration message launched in Guatemala when he insisted that Central Americans “do not come to the United States.” One of the harshest was the senator from New York, Alexandra Ocasio Cortez, who criticized leaving aside the causes of emigration. For his part, in Mexico, López Obrador valued the visit of Harris very positively, about whose meeting he said had gone “very very very well.” Finally, USAID’s controversial presence in Mexico did not come to light among the delegations, although it did so indirectly. Despite López Obrador’s criticism, the agreement signed on Tuesday to address the migration issue will be handled by the US agency and the Mexican government will paradoxically from now on from USAID receive funds, training and equipment for its surveillance.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.