The White House
June 7, 2021
Palacio Nacional de la Cultura
Guatemala City, Guatemala
PRESIDENT GIAMMATTEI: I’m trying to express in English to give you the best reception here in Guatemala. Thank you very much for your visit.
For us, it’s very important to have you here because it means that Guatemala and the United States can work as partners with common goals. That kind of goals are — there are many: narcotraffic is one, immigration, the fight against corruption, the need to build prosperity walls especially in the departments who are near the border of Mexico.
For that — for that things, we will prepare you many things that we have that we consider we can work together. (Inaudible) give you the thanks for being here, the thanks for your cooperation.
But this part will be hard in English; I finish in Spanish.
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Okay. (Laughter.) Gracias.
PRESIDENT GIAMMATTEI: (Speaks in Spanish.) (No translation provided.)
VICE PRESIDENT HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. President. And I’m glad to be at ground zero with you. I very much have been looking forward to this trip. We have had many conversations, but it is good to see you in person, and I’m looking forward to the conversation we are having today.
I believe that there is a lot of work that we can do together, and today is a continuation of the potential of that work. So thank you for this warm welcome and for the greeting last night when we arrived.
Mr. President, I’m very proud that this is my first foreign trip as Vice President of the United States. And it is a reflection of the priority that the President and I have placed on this region of our world.
We are neighbors. And the position of the United States is that we then are interconnected. We share familial bonds. We share bonds that are historic. And it is important that, as we embark on a new era, that we recognize the significance and the importance of this relationship as neighbors.
We also believe the world is, more than ever before, so obviously interconnected and interdependent. And there are many issues that have made that clear — including, most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. So it is in our collective interest that we work together where we can find the possibility of solving problems that are longstanding, problems that are both based on root causes, and have manifested themselves in terms of acute factors.
We also believe that we share an interest, in terms of the United States knowing that our security and prosperity depends on what happens abroad. We are clear that we have a responsibility then to interact, to cooperate, and to work with our allies and our friends around the world.
As you know, when I return to the United States, the President would be taking his first international trip as a reflection, again, of our administration’s priority on establishing and reestablishing the relationships with our allies around the world.
And so I am in Guatemala today to discuss and advance our shared priorities. Foremost among those, as you have mentioned, is addressing migration and — from this region in particular.
Mr. President, you and I have spoken about the pride the Guatemalan people have in their country, in their home, in their communities. We have talked about the students who are just starting their education here and want to continue with their education here; entrepreneurs who are building businesses and engaged in innovation ing- — ingenuity on a number of levels.
We’ve talked about the farmers who are feeding their neighbors and feeding their neighbors within the country and outside the country — and, therefore, the significance of that as part of the economic base of this country, but also based on what it does in terms of contributing to the world and giving to the world.
It is clear to me that — I know, as you do, that Guatemala is a country with — with incredible resources, historically and currently. But there is work that we can do together to grow the capacity of those resources and to reach the people.
We believe also that — and you and I have discussed this in our first conversation — most people don’t want to leave home. I know that. I believe that. Most people do not want to leave the place where they grew up; their grandmother; the place where they pray; the place where they — their language is spoken, where the culture is familiar.
And when they do leave, it usually has to do with one or two reasons: either because they are fleeing some harm
or because they simply cannot satisfy their basic needs by staying at home. They cannot simply satisfy the needs that they have to raise their children by staying at home.
The second point that you have made every time we have talked, including today, is the significance of hope — the ability that we have as leaders to give the people a sense of hope that help is on the way and to then follow through, understanding that hope does not exist by itself. It must be coupled with relationships of trust. It must be coupled with tangible outcomes, in terms of what we do as leaders to convince people that there is a reason to be hopeful about their future and the future of their children.
So it is with that spirit that we are here today, and I thank you for this warm welcome. And I look forward to our conversations. I look forward to working together on — in a tangible way to bring a benefit to both of our countries.
PRESIDENT GIAMMATTEI: Thank you.