Communities and grassroots organizations are key to avoid repeating the mistakes of past U.S. efforts in Guatemala and Mexico

June 9, 2021
Fernanda Durand (443) 396-3317 [email protected]
Nancy Treviño (786) 201-8958 [email protected]


CHICAGO – While Vice President Harris’ trip to Guatemala and Mexico this week marked a stated commitment by the Biden-Harris administration to work towards addressing the root causes of migration from these two nations, it’s imperative for them to articulate new and innovative approaches to deal with this humanitarian issue and not keep pushing an ineffective foreign policy that hasn’t worked for decades. This transnational approach is a breath of fresh air as it recognizes that it is equally important to properly address the influx of people arriving to the U.S. southern border as it is to understand the many factors pushing so many people out of their countries of origin. 


“Irrespective of the economic, social, and political strategy that ultimately emerges to effectively deal with the root causes of migration, it will be essential to find a way to honor international protection obligations, as well as the immediate need to respect the rights of migrants. VP Harris’ visit should mark the beginning of a truly new approach to U.S. foreign policy towards Central American nations and México, including seeking new partners to work with,” stated Oscar Chacon, executive director of Alianza Americas. 



“Despite VP Harris’ ill-advised comments seeking to deter migration, the outcomes of her visit to each country reflects an understanding of the complexity of this humanitarian challenge. The U.S. must address the economic, social, and political root causes of broken societies and continuing forced migration, while honoring humanitarian protection obligations. It is urgent for the U.S. to support the State’s capacity to respond to organized crime — particularly corruption, impunity, and drug trafficking — that dramatically impacts the safety and human rights of migrants,” stated Matt Nelson, executive director of  



Some of the specific announcements by VP Harris suggest an inclination to keep doing the same as before, with the same type of partners: large private sector actors. Truly effective solutions that will actually create safe and dignified conditions in the countries of origin must be developed at the local level. Therefore, working with local governments, as well as with community-led civil society organizations in villages and small towns that are connected with grassroots initiatives, will truly make a difference. We call on the U.S. government to review their approach to ensure these grassroots efforts are prioritized over traditional top-down models from the past.



Additionally, the U.S. is offering training and strengthening cooperation in the investigation and prosecution of crime. It is essential that the U.S. administration understands that this is a unique opportunity to strengthen the rule of law. Efficacy in these programs will only be achieved if human rights are an essential component of all activities and if efforts are made to strengthen public institutions and civil society. Otherwise, further harm that results in forced migration will be the outcome. 



“VP Harris’ visit should be the beginning of new ambitious projects that do not repeat the mistakes of past U.S. cooperation programs. Alianza Americas and will continue working with its allies in Central America and Mexico, raising their voices, and developing joint initiatives to address the existing challenges so that it is possible to live a safe and dignified life in their territories. We will continue our advocacy work with our memberships and allies in the U.S. and keep working towards humane and fair immigration policies while pushing for a U.S. foreign policy that works with local, community-based actors,” concluded Chacon




Alianza Americas is a network of migrant-led organizations working in the United States and transnationally to create an inclusive, equitable and sustainable way of life for communities across North, Central and South America. is the nation’s largest online Latinx organizing group — and the nation’s premier Latinx digital organizing hub — advancing social justice with technology, media, and culture.’s mission is to advance Latinx power and create winning campaigns that amplify Latinx voices; expand the political imagination and traditional boundaries; and foster inspiration for freedom, equity, and justice.

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