Vice President Kamala Harris vowed to work in tandem with Mexico to address the issues confronting the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.
In a virtual meeting with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador Friday, the vice president said the partnership between the two nations “couldn’t be more important today.”
“It is in our countries mutual interest to provide immediate relief to the Northern Triangle and to address the root causes of migration,” Harris said during a brief photo opportunity with reporters during the meeting.
“You and I have discussed before, an understanding and a belief — most people don’t want to leave home. And when they do, it is often because they are fleeing from harm, or they are forced to leave because there in no opportunity,” Harris said.
She said the two nations share “the belief that together, we can make progress, and we can create and build a sense of hope for the people of the Northern Triangle for the future.”
In March, President Biden tasked Harris with leading diplomatic outreach to the Northern Triangle, a role that encompasses addressing the root causes of migration from the region to the U.S. Already Harris has held meetings and phone calls with the Mexican president and with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei.
Harris’ chief spokesperson, Symone Sanders, told reporters that Harris has not yet spoken with the leaders of Honduras and El Salvador but added that “very senior administration staff” are having conversations with their counterparts in the two nations.
Earlier this week, during a trip to Rhode Island, Harris announced her plans to travel to Guatemala and Mexico and meet with the two leaders in person on June 7 and 8.
There was a little drama just before the meeting, when López Obrador accused the U.S. of providing financing for an anticorruption group, Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity, that he says engages in political activity against his administration. Calling it an, “interventionist act that violated our sovereignty,” the Mexican president announced in a news conference that his country had filed a diplomatic note with the U.S. Embassy.
But during his meeting with Harris, López Obrador did not bring up the issue and struck a more conciliatory tone, calling the relationship between the two countries today “much better” than in the past.
“I was saying to President Biden last time we met, that [was] when our relations were not completely positive between our countries. Our President Porfirio Diaz during his administration would say, ‘For Mexico, so far from God — and so close to the United States,'” López Obrador said, prompting laughter from the U.S. delegation. “However, now we can say because our relations are so much better, we can say, ‘Blessed Mexico, so close to God and not so far from the United States.'”