Political outsider and former comedian Jimmy Morales took office after a landslide victory over former first lady Sandra Torres in October. From April to September of last year, thousands of Guatemalans filled the capital city’s central plaza to protest corruption and impunity. This is the second part on a series on his views on immigration and U.S. aid to Guatemala. Read part one here. (This interview has been translated from Spanish and lightly edited for clarity).
Latin Correspondent: So, to clarify, would you say you do want aid? What is your idea for how the aid should be spent?
Jimmy Morales: The approach of these millions of dollars, one third for Guatemala, is to invest in certain places where there is more migration, under the condition that Guatemala puts two dollars for every dollar in the budget. So the issue that I have — it’s very important to me—this issue is how am I going to do this in order to get two dollars if the national budget is committed and has certain holds that don’t depend just on the president but also depend on congress.
There are important needs that ought to be resolved in the whole country and not only in certain focused points. I am not saying that I don’t want the help. I am saying that there are certain elements that it opens to resolving and certain problems and topics that it opens to provide a solution to the challenge.
Latin Correspondent: You mentioned (in a press conference) that you spoke to other Central American leaders today. Have you spoken to President Obama? How was your conversation?
Morales: I spoke to Joe Biden. It was very pleasant, very friendly. He congratulated us. He urged us to take advantage of the opportunity that Guatemala has with this transcendental political time, including my candidacy. He spoke to me about the Plan for Alliance for Prosperity that they are trying to convince the Senate to approve and of course from our side there is the desire to collaborate and support it. The limit that I have is how I am going to get the resources.
Morales added some final words on immigration.
Morales: I would like to send thanks to the Guatemalan immigrants in the U.S. who even though they did not vote in this election, they still counted. They supported me very much. From the U.S., they called their relatives and friends to say that Jimmy Morales was a candidate that they were interested in as much for the problems of those who are there as for those that are trying to avoid (leaving) and that are here trying to leave. So thank you very much to them and I promise to help them.
This is the second part of a Q & A series with recently inaugurated Guatemalan president on immigration.