Guatemala, April 4, 2022
Last week, Ms. Mileydi Guilarte, Deputy Assistant Administrator for the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, visited Guatemala to interact with local authorities, Indigenous Peoples’ leaders, implementing partners, project participants, civil society, and the private sector. Ms. Guilarte’s engagements promoted the rule of law, underscored the importance of anti-corruption programs and efforts to strengthen human rights, highlighted access to H-2 visas and education opportunities, and emphasized USAID’s work with local actors to advance Guatemala’s development agenda.
During her first meetings in Guatemala City, Ms. Guilarte spoke with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mario Búcaro, reinforcing the United States government’s interest in expanding job opportunities; continuing the fight against transnational organized criminal networks; and protecting the rights of independent media, human rights defenders, and underserved populations. Ms. Guilarte urged greater Guatemalan government investment in development initiatives for Indigenous Communities in the Western Highlands and efforts to strengthen the rule of law, including through a transparent Attorney General selection process. Ms. Guilarte advocated for support for marginalized populations, including LGBTQI+ communities. In a separate meeting with the Minister of the Interior David Barrientos, Ms. Guilarte reinforced the importance of transparent and fair implementation of the “NGO Law” (Decree 4-2020.)
Ms. Guilarte visited the Migrant Reception Center, in which USAID Guatemala has invested US$1.2 million to support the Guatemalan government’s efforts to promote the safe and dignified return of migrants. She also visited El Refugio de la Niñez, a local organization that provides protection, education, shelter, and other services for minors who are survivors of Trafficking in Persons and other crimes. USAID recently entered into a new US$5 million direct partnership with El Refugio de la Niñez.
While in Guatemala, DAA Guilarte also traveled to Huehuetenango to join the Ministry of Education and UNICEF in the launch of the new U.S. government-assisted Juntos Mejoramos Tu Escuela project, an effort to improve 275 schools affected by the damage that storms Eta and Iota inflicted upon local water, sanitation, and electric infrastructure.
Ms. Guilarte also met with several storm-affected communities currently receiving humanitarian assistance from USAID. In collaboration with other partners, USAID has reached 3,180 vulnerable families, increasing access to basic food and other necessities, rehabilitating 31 damaged water systems, providing technical assistance to repair damaged homes, and delivering improved stoves and water filters.
Advancing USAID’s new localization strategy, Centroamerica Local, and the Young Women’s Empowerment Initiative announced during Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit to Guatemala in 2021, Ms. Guilarte interacted with indigenous and youth organizations and leaders, including human rights activists, members of civil society, and community members. These individuals are key partners in USAID development programs that promote family planning, education, health and nutrition services, social conflict resolution, the elimination of gender-based violence, institutional strengthening in agriculture and food security, improved personal and economic conditions for young people and their families, and reduced incentives for irregular migration.
DAA Guilarte’s visit reaffirms the commitment of the U.S. government to work together with the Government of Guatemala, indigenous leaders, local organizations, and other partners to advance a development agenda in areas of mutual interest and shared value.
“I was inspired by the resilience of the Guatemalan people and their hope for a better future. This is why USAID and the Biden-Harris Administration are committed to working tirelessly to strengthen the rule of law, promote human rights, and support equitable economic growth and access to education to make Guatemala a more prosperous and just place for all Guatemalans.”