Just as China comes courting, Democrats decide that now's the time to harass Guatemala

Are Democrats trying to drive Guatemala away from America and into China's arms?

How's this for a coming "Who lost Guatemala" set-up?

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, and SFRC Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) were joined by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Peter Welch (D-VT), in urging the State Department to hold Guatemalan officials accountable for corruption and encouraging the Department of State to review and update its approach in Guatemala to better align longstanding U.S. values and interests. The letter specifically asks the Administration to deny visas to and freeze economic assets and holdings in the U.S. of Guatemalan officials and private citizens who have engaged in acts of corruption, human rights violations, or acts that have undermined democratic processes or institutions.

“The continuing deterioration of democracy and the rule of law in Guatemala is deeply concerning. Efforts by President Giammattei and his government to harass and persecute government officials, members of the press, and civil society organizations represent an alarming pattern of targeting individuals seeking to root out Guatemala’s rampant corruption… the administration’s overall response to these attacks against democracy and the rule of law as a whole have been insufficient in pushing back on the harm caused by the Guatemalan government’s actions,” wrote the senators in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“We urge you to make clear that the U.S.-Guatemala relationship must remain grounded in a mutual and unwavering commitment to protecting democracy and democratic institutions – without exception,” the senators continued.

See, Guatemala is the bad guy, among a slew of countries in the region just like them, somehow the pariah state, and pay no attention to the truly horrible doings in Nicaragua, the far left swing in Honduras, and the oddly dictator-like doings in El Salvador. Single Guatemala out for their scruffy judicial system, sanction them, hold them up for global scorn, and give them the Iran, Russia, or North Korea treatment.

Which is obviously some kind of overkill, and very bad diplomatic management from the U.S.

These allies of Joe Biden are likely singling the little country out because it is the only country in the region that has not swung to the far left, with all the consequences that brings for the U.S., including big waves of illegal immigration and a sudden interest in cutting ties with Taiwan in favor of China. Should the latter happen, it's bad news for the U.S. as it may be forced into a position to rally allies in Taiwan's defense. 

The Guatemalan government is conservative. The characters mentioned in the congressional letter as kicked out of the country pretty well needed to be kicked out given their far-left ties and power overreach, but even if they didn't -- what business is this of ours? Guatemala is a sovereign state and can make its own decisions about whom it wants in. The country is not perfect, but it's no pariah state according to the Heritage Foundation, which noted:

According to The Heritage Foundation’s annual Index of Economic Freedom, which tracks and ranks economic policy environments of 177 countries around the world, Guatemala’s economic freedom score is 63.2, making its economy the 69th-freest in the 2022 index. Guatemala is ranked 15th among 32 countries in the Americas region, and its overall score is above the regional and world averages. 

The letter went over badly in Guatemala, as anyone might expect:



Why does this matter? Well, because just a few days ago, Honduras decided to cut ties to Taiwan, in favor of recognition of China, likely to stick a thumb in Uncle Sam's eye, of course, but also to avail themselves of China's pro-offered tray of infrastructure investments through its One Belt, One Road initiative. Like the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang child-catcher's paddy wagon, that Chinese initiative is figuratively gussied up with candy and goodies to draw the kiddies in before the door slams down on them, leaving them in a debt trap they can't get out of. It's also to drive U.S. influence from the region.

Now the pressure is on Guatemala to do the same, following Honduras down China road:

Guatemala in fact is now under intense pressure to join the China train and cut ties with Taiwan, leaving it more friendless than ever.

Look at the creepy tone of China in the last couple days, stepping up its pressure on Guatemala to abandon Taiwan and move over into the China column:



According to a op-ed by an apparently pro-China analyst at Asia Times, which appears to be true enough, the pressure is high:

On this trip, [Taiwanese Prime Minister] Tsai is struggling to maintain what little diplomatic support she still has in the region. Recently, Nicaragua (December 2021) and El Salvador (December 2022) also broke off relations with Taiwan.

Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei enjoys the support of Trumpism, the evangelical churches, and Israel. last year, he announced that he would organize a summit of countries that held relations with Taiwan, but backed out.

His insistence on maintaining such relations may be causing economic damage to his country. Taiwan only invested US$22.87 million in Guatemala between 1952 and 2019.

In contrast, countries in the region that have resumed diplomatic ties with China have received significant investments. These are the cases of El Salvador – which received $500 million in 2021 for tourism-related infrastructure projects – and Panama, which since 2017 has received billions of dollars in investments linked to its canal.

The Heritage Foundation analysis by index of economic freedom editor Anthony B. Kim noted this:

Regrettably, since May 2016, Taiwan has lost eight diplomatic allies to China: Burkina Faso, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Kiribati, Nicaragua, Panama, Sao Tome and Principe, and the Solomon Islands.

Half of Taiwan’s allies are located in the Latin American region.

As one of the remaining democracies in Latin America, Guatemala is in a critical position to advance mutual values and interests in the region. From its recognition of Taiwan to its cooperation on trade, migration, and security, Guatemala is a critical U.S. partner in Latin America and, more specifically, in the crucial Northern Triangle region.

So now's the time to hassle Guatemala about its judicial system and meddle in its political affairs? What do they think that will do to Guatemala's disposition to stick with Taiwan and ignore the prooffered goodies of China?

Way to manage those diplomatic relations, boys.

Guatemala, thus far, has stayed loyal to Taiwan and insists it always will:

It’s notable that at a public event in December hosted by The Heritage Foundation, Giammattei said, “We consider ourselves an ally and friend [of the United States], although some officials in this government don’t understand this in its true dimension.”

But with Congress harping on them, and China offering the goodies, who knows?

There's no strategy here, just raw naked leftist hankerings to meddle on behalf of angry NGOs into a small country's internal affairs and watch the U.S. lose the support abroad that Taiwan has, making it easier and easier for China to invade that island.

I checked if this string of senators were China'd up, and based on their past statements, it appears they are not. So the harass-Guatemala campaign of theirs is just stupidity. 

Where's border czar Kamala Harris, whose portfolio includes Guatemala? 

We don't need to ask -- wherever it is, she's not on it.

Image: Josué Goge via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

If you experience technical problems, please write to helpdesk@americanthinker.com