Exclusive: Senior Guatemalan Official Says Trump Is Right, U.S. Aid Rarely Makes It To The Poor

A senior Guatemalan official said his nation was aware President Donald Trump was going to cut funding to his nation, saying he understands the decision as the majority of funds designated to aid his nation’s poorest through development projects and other charities rarely reaches those who need it most.

It is a stunning admission by Guatemala’s Secretary of Strategic Intelligence Mario Duarte, who says the funding needs to be thoroughly accounted for by both the United States and Guatemala. He spoke to me on my latest podcast at the Sara Carter Show.

He discussed everything from U.S. Guatemala relations, illegal immigration, terrorism and fighting narco trafficking organizations. He added that the funding being cut will not affect his nation’s work and cooperation with the United States to curtail the growing security threats posed by narco traffickers and other major security issues, like the illegal immigration crisis. Duarte emphasized that the funding cuts will not be ‘directly’ related to security programs.

“To be honest with you, I don’t think most of that money is actually being properly used in our country, mainly in Guatemala,” Duarte told me. “A lot of that money goes to NGOs who spend it on mostly doing analysis and white papers sent studies. The money’s not really going towards the people. There’s no significant projects that really help us along those lines.”

Over the past year there have been ongoing discussions with State Department officials about the funding cuts, said Duarte. The funding cuts are “not directly related to all the security programs that allow us or allow us to Guatemalan authorities to assist also the U.S. authorities to curve down any flux of drugs, illegal immigrants, or any type of threat that can be coming through Guatemala towards the United States.”

Duarte noted that last week he had “a conversation with a couple of project managers from USAID that have worked here in Guatemala, they have worked in Haiti, they have worked in Africa, they have worked in Afghanistan and the issue here is that the projects are almost like pet projects for some political ideal.

“It’s not something thats going to significantly increase the Guatemalan capacity to actually start building up on that and create jobs, and create some sort of development.  So, at some point, there needs to be a good coordination in between the executive of the United States and the executive of Guatemala to really make a change in how these projects are selected and how they’re funded to make sure that the money is actually used to assist us in developing our undeveloped regions. And, you know, redundancy applied here,” Duarte added.

Duarte said his nation will continue to assist the United States.

“So, basically all the systems that it’s given currently to, our security forces, our armed forces, as long as its used to curve down all these different threats towards the United States they’re still going to remain in place, were still going to be receiving that assistance from the United States,” he said. “And obviously, we are a partner of the United States and we’ve been a partner for a long time. Now, the funding that’s going to be cut, as we understand, its all other funds that go, as you said, to NGOs, or any other projects not related to security.”
He also stressed that during the past three years the U.S. and Guatemala has worked together to “intercept and deny access and deny further movement, as you said, to Special Interest Aliens coming from countries that do have some sort of relation with terrorism organizations, or also, individuals that appear in some database and that might prove some sort of link to terrorist organizations, so obviously, we’re not going to allow them to go through so we go through a very complicated process after they are reviewed, interviewed, and they get sent back from wherever they came from.”