President Colom Obtains Little in Meeting With Bush
Even under ordinary conditions, if you are the newly-elected president of a small Central American nation like Guatemala, coming to Washington to meet the U.S. president is a singularly important and daunting event.
Unfortunately for Guatemala, President Alvaro Colom’s visit comes during an election year in which the idea of legalizing the undocumented is the political kiss of death. According to this editorial from Guatemala’s Prensa Libre, the trip also proved a lesson in the global pecking order:
“Meetings between Guatemalan officials and their Washington colleagues stand out, due to a failure to comprehend how the complicated American political system works … The United States remains an important trading partner and ally to Guatemala, which is not necessarily true in reverse. … The daily deportations of Guatemalans clearly demonstrate that point.
Translated By Miguel Guttierez
April 29, 2008
Prensa Libre – Guatemala – Original Article (Spanish)
As was to expected, the meeting yesterday between President Álvaro Colom and his colleague George W. Bush in Washington, D. C. had no real impact on the central problem of the approximately 700,000 undocumented Guatemalans resident in the United States, although the comments of the host President remained within the bounds of diplomatic propriety.
Indeed, President Colom bought up Temporary Protection Status (TPS) for Guatemalans living in the United States, to which Bush replied that he “will consider the request,” and that he believes that, “comprehensive immigration reform is in the best interests” of their country. The Guatemalan President said that he is “awaiting a response” to the above request, and that the two had discussed the issues of greatest importance to Guatemala during his visit to the U.S. capital.
[Editor’s Note: Temporary Protected Status is granted to eligible nationals of designated countries who can’t return home because of a crisis in their home country. This would give undocumented Guatemalans in the U.S. temporary work permits].
The TPS has been granted to Salvadorans, Nicaraguans and Hondurans, but due to the judgment of the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala, there is little hope that the same will be allowed in the Guatemalan case. It is important then, that the President emphasizes the issue with Democratic and Republican Senate leaders during the meetings he will hold with them today. But given the U.S. domestic political focus on the struggle over the November elections, things are not conducive to progress in this regard.
[Editor’s Note: Immigrants from the neighboring countries of Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador were given access to the TPS after natural disasters that have occurred in recent years, but unfortunately for Guatemalans, no such arrangements have been made in their case.]
The conversation between the two presidents also centered on the issue of drug trafficking and the need to increase efforts to combat it.
READ ON AT WORLDMEETS.US, along with continuing translated foreign press coverage of U.S. relations with Latin America.