In January this year, the Taiwanese government signed the agreement $900 One thousand per signature lobby Ballard Partners To promote Guatemalan interests in the United States (US). Seven months later, the results of this lobbying have mostly been summed up in meetings with Republican US politicians and allies of former President Donald Trump.
When the deal with Ballard Partners, known as the Trump lobbying firm, was finalized at the beginning of the year, the expectations of the government of Alejandro Giammattei would be closer to the centers of political power in the United States, improve bilateral relations and attract investment. ., as stated in Press release.
However, till date there are doubts whether these ambitions will be fulfilled.
In recent months, Ballard Partners has offered Meetings between representatives of the Guatemalan government and six Republican congressmen, all representatives in FloridaAnd four of them do not coordinate groups related to Guatemala, they consider themselves experts in international politics.
It’s about congressmen Greg Steep, Brian Mast, Byron Donalds, Carlos Gimenez, Daniel Webster and Mario Diaz-Ballard. from them, Only the first two are in the Foreign Affairs Committee. It oversees and legislates on foreign aid issues. Most participate in groups that have little to do with Guatemala, such as transportation, natural resources, or science or technology, according to experts in international politics.
Common among them Trump’s allies, who expressed his support up for re-election in November, and some supported the tougher immigration policies the president promoted during his administration.
He was the only democratic politician who was in harmony with the government Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Sen. Tim Cain.
Kaine, who is from Virginia, has raised temporary protected status for Guatemalan immigrants already living in the U.S. before President Joe Biden’s administration, and he told VOA days after the meeting that the fight against corruption in Guatemala would be tough. Essential to achieving a “strong economy”.
In addition, the company gave another appointment to the Giamattei government Brandon Yoders, Employee In the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Latin America portfolio. However, there are no reports of concordance with Senator Bob Menendez, who heads the organization.
On behalf of Guatemala, the Ministers of Economy, Labor, Foreign Affairs and the Ambassador of Guatemala to the United States, Alfonso Quiñones, participated in the meetings.
In addition, Ballard Partners facilitated meetings with three entrepreneurs: John Barza, of Logically; Carlos Benin of Gap Engineering and Alex Ochoa of Tower Zone Wireless Group.
As for Barza, he is a businessman who served as interim administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) during the Trump administration and sympathizes with conservative Guatemalan organizations for their anti-abortion positions..
The meetings are recorded in the Foreign Ministry’s service report, which was accessed through a request for public information.
Nostalgic government of the Trump era
While consulting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on these appointments, he assures that the purpose of the agreement is to have approaches with various members of Congress to discuss topics of interest to Guatemala.
“A clear example of Guatemala’s main issue is migration. Given the current situation, although it is true that there are specific groups that pursue it, it has received great interest from all members of Congress,” the portfolio responded through its public relations office.
The office argued that some of the representatives approached were part of committees that “have jurisdiction over issues of interest to Guatemala and the region,” such as appropriations, internal security, labor and judicial affairs.
However, for former Foreign Minister Edgar Gutierrez, the company-promoted meetings have no impact. Mainly because all the nominations were from congressmen from the state of Florida, Republicans and people far removed from the administration in Washington.
“In one sentence, Going with the fringes, what This reflects the marginalization of the government’s foreign policy in Washington. His relations with the administration (Biden) were practically severed. They will not get central authority,” he says.
Gutierrez believes Alejandro Giammatte’s government is betting on Trump’s return to power, but it’s complicated to make this happen.
“Like Bukhel, Giamatte has no international alliesGutierrez says. The shortcoming of the Salvadoran president is that he does not enjoy credibility with the people.
Internationalist Williams Álvarez admits that Ballard Partners was an influential firm in the Trump era, so the benefits of this lobbying may have been limited, but it is not today.
“This agency does not have the authority it had before. They have only met with Florida congressional committees, and the impact is not significant. Not in Texas or California or anywhere else. It’s the same team,” Alvarez said.
Similarly, it is noteworthy that a meeting was held with a staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and not with the head of the body. “Meeting the staff of the chairman of the committee (Senator Bob Menendez) was not enough to influence the commission. It gives the impression that they couldn’t meet with anyone else. It seems that no one is interested in talking to Guatemala,” Alvarez said.
For Álvarez, the Guatemalan government and its rapprochement with Republican pro-Trump politicians follows the policy of Florida Gov. Ron de Santis, who has lashed out at the Biden administration on several occasions.
“The government of Guatemala is following the Florida governor’s policy. The way the government views its relationship with the Biden administration appears to be copied from the way the Florida governor views his relationship with Biden. “Guatemala is being sold as a republican government, which is trying to gain sympathy among the republicans, who are irritated by the democratic government,” Alvarez said.
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