GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) – Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei criticized the United States on Thursday for returning migrants infected with the novel corona virus to its Central American country and putting a strain on its poor health system.
FILE PHOTO: Guatemala's President Alejandro Giammattei watches during a press conference with Michael Kozak (not pictured), deputy secretary of the State Department's Western Hemisphere Affairs Office, in Guatemala City, Guatemala, on February 7, 2020. REUTERS / Luis Echeverria
Despite the coronavirus pandemic and Giammattei's attempts to curb deportation flights from the United States, the government of President Donald Trump has sent Guatemalan migrants back to their home country.
119 of the deportees tested positive for the virus, 5% of the country's 2,512 cases.
"We understand that the United States wants to deport people, but we don't understand why they send us flights full of infections," said Giammattei in an online lecture hosted by the Atlantic Council's Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center.
"We had serious problems with deported people," he said. "We were not treated by the United States as I would consider friendly to the deportees."
Giammattei, 64, a retired doctor who uses crutches for multiple sclerosis, also said the United States hadn't even sent a mask during the pandemic.
The U.S. Embassy issued a statement detailing the recent economic aid to Guatemala, including supplies, training, and support provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and help pledged by USAID last month in $ 2.4 million.
"The United States is committed to the health and prosperity of the Guatemalan people," said Ambassador Luis Arreaga in the statement.
Mexico, Colombia, Haiti and Jamaica have also registered infections among deportees.
This week, the US Border Police announced it would deport Mexicans on flights to limit the spread of the corona virus. The Mexican government said eight flights were planned for May that would send up to 133 people to Mexico City.
Reporting by Sofia Menchu; Letter from Daina Beth Solomon; Edited by Robert Birsel
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