Marcelo Ebrard says that human traffickers must be brought to justice

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Migrants travelling to the U.S. paint a banner in an improvised shelter in Tecun Uman

Guatemala urged the United States on Friday to invest in the country and elsewhere in Central America to boost development and called for a crackdown on people-smuggling gangs after dozens of migrants died in a truck crash in Mexico.

Officials from Guatemala and Mexico pledged to tackle international people-smuggling networks they blamed for Thursday’s accident that killed 55 mostly Guatemalan migrants.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said a regional “action group” had been set up to fight human-smuggling networks and was backed by the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and the United States.

The group will “investigate, identify, learn, and bring to justice the leaders of the organization responsible for this human tragedy,” Ebrard told a televised news conference.

SAN PEDRO SULA, HONDURAS – JANUARY 15: The silhouette of Honduran migrants as they walk at 4:30 a.m. towards the Guatemalan border on January 15, 2021, in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. The caravan plans to walk across Guatemala and Mexico to eventually reach the United States. Central Americans expect to receive asylum and most Hondurans decided to migrate after being hit by recent hurricanes Eta and Iota. Honduras recently asked the U.S. to extend its Temporary Protected Status. (Photo by Milo Espinoza/Getty Images)

Speaking alongside Ebrard, Guatemalan Foreign Minister Pedro Brolo urged investment by Washington to alleviate poverty in the region and called for tougher penalties against criminals who benefit from illegal immigration.

“We invite the U.S. government to support development and investment in our country, as well as in neighboring countries, to avoid and ensure these tragedies are not repeated,” he added.

Brolo also proposed that the governments of Guatemala, Mexico, and the United States organize a meeting soon to align and standardize their migration policies.

Each month, thousands of migrants fleeing poverty and violence in Central America travel through Mexico to reach the U.S. border. They often cram into large trucks organized by smugglers in dangerous conditions.

Source: Excelsior

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