WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Honduras next week to attend the inauguration of President-elect Xiomara Castro, the Central American country’s first female president.
Harris has been tasked by President Joe Biden with the hefty job of finding solutions on immigration at the Southwest border. Tens of thousands of Hondurans and other Central American migrants come to the border every month seeking a better life. U.S. border officials stopped migrants more than 1.7 million times during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, nearly quadruple the number from 458,088 in the previous fiscal year, when the coronavirus first struck.
Harris will lead a delegation that includes U.S. leaders in economic, international development and global affairs.
The visit is an effort to “deepen the partnership between the United States and Honduras and work together to advance economic growth, combat corruption, and address the root causes of migration, Harris’ Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said in a statement.
Castro, the leftist opposition party candidate, won out over the country’s ruling party in November. She will be inaugurated Jan. 27. She is the former first lady and her husband, José Manuel Zelaya was ousted by the army in a coup in 2009. She rode a wave of popular discontent with 12 years of National Party governance, which peaked in former President Juan Orlando Hernández’s second term.
Still there are some tense feelings over Zelaya’s ouster and what the Hondurans saw as U.S. deference to the National Party there, and sluggishness on calling the ouster a coup.
But there is some common ground between Castro and the U.S. government in at least three major areas: immigration, drug trafficking and corruption. And as relations tense with other Northern Triangle countries, a productive relationship with Honduras could be particularly useful diplomatically.