Kamala Harris, on her first foreign trip as vice president, is looking to deepen diplomatic ties with Guatemala and Mexico, two Latin American nations key to the Biden administration’s efforts to stem the spike in migration at the U.S. border.
Harris, who is set to depart Washington later Sunday, is seeking to secure commitments for greater cooperation on border security and economic investment, but corruption in the region — a far more intractable challenge — will complicate her efforts.
It’s already had a significant impact on her work in the region. Harris has yet to engage substantively with the leaders of Honduras and El Salvador, who are both embroiled in corruption scandals. And it’s an issue that experts in the region say will need to be addressed to make any lasting changes.
“Corruption is a cancer in the region,” said Jason Marczak, director of the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center. “Addressing corruption is fundamental to creating hope and creating the potential for opportunity.”
Marczak noted that corruption in the region affects human rights protections, employment opportunities, the cost of goods and much more. Jobs, he said, will come “with investment, and investment comes where there is certainty in