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Guatemala Seeks Aid, Smuggler Crackdown After Mexico Migrant Deaths


Rescue personnel move an injured migrant woman from the site of an accident near Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas state, Mexico, Dec. 9, 2021.

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.

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.

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