By Anna-Catherine Brigida, for Foreign Policy
On Aug. 11, Guatemalans elected Alejandro Giammattei president. Guatemala’s presidential election took place in the midst of a major exodus. More than 200,000 Guatemalans have left their country since October 2018. Giammattei, a 63-year-old former prisons director who had unsuccessfully run for president three times before, promises to grow the economy and reduce unemployment so Guatemalans won’t have to leave. He says he will build a “wall of prosperity.”
The success of his tenure could hang on immigration. How he will address it is unclear. Just weeks ago, Guatemala’s outgoing president struck a deal with U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration that would force migrants to seek asylum in Guatemala rather than in the United States. Giammattei has said he will seek to amend the deal to be more favorable to Guatemala. “If we don’t have the capacity to look after our own people, imagine what it will be like for foreigners,” he said.
But many Guatemalans — even those who voted for Giammattei — have little faith he can make the drastic changes the country needs to give its own citizens a reason to stay.
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