Thursday, May 21, 2020

Giammattei Says US Is Not An Ally

The Atlantic Council's Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center hosted a talk by Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei about Covid-19. He has taken strict measures, which in turn have generated criticism for their authoritarian nature, their impact on the economy, and even the sense that as a retired doctor he somehow feels he alone can save the country.

He started by saying that the strictness was necessary due to the lack of hospital space, sending people who tested positive straight to the hospital so they wouldn't infect the rest of their families. He mentioned that reopening would involve protocols and the ability to close areas (even departments) as needed, rather than the entire country.

Then Jason Marczak asked him rather diplomatically about the "role of the United States" and he was clearly pissed. Jason had made some mention of the US being an ally and Giammattei corrected him, saying Guatemala was an ally of the U.S. but the reverse was not true because Guatemala was not being treated that way. The Trump administration is deporting infected Guatemalans, which is a major source of the country's cases. He understands that the U.S. wants to deport, he said, but not why they're deporting infected people. We've complied with all the protocols like the CDC recommends, he added, but they haven't.

And who can argue? I should point out as well that the Trump administration used the CDC to block all asylum seekers, infected or not. Now all those being deported are stigmatized in Guatemala as well. Not exactly the work of an ally.


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