Vice President Kamala Harris defends her strategy to get 'real results' during her visit to Guatemala and called a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border a "grand gesture."
QUESTION: Sure. Thank you both for taking questions. Madam Vice President, you just spoke about this -- you've spoken about this in the past: the need to combat corruption to address the root causes of migration. But given President Giammattei's record on the issue, his criticism and objections to and resistance to anti-corruption reformers in the nation, has he given you any commitments that he will not try to interfere in anti-corruption efforts in the nation? And what makes you believe that you can trust him as a partner on that issue?
And then, President Giammattei, what do you say to critics who say that you are, in fact, part of the problem of corruption in your nation and that you don't take combating it seriously?
And then one more just because we're going to Mexico tomorrow: Madam Vice President, there have been questions about why you and President Biden have yet to visit the border -- the U.S. southern border -- and I'm wondering if you can answer some of those. Republicans have charged that you're not taking the situation there seriously. So how do you respond to that criticism? And when will that visit come?
HARRIS: So, on the issue of corruption: As you know, the President of the United States recently issued a very clear statement about where we, as the United States, stand on this issue. It was unambiguous that we will look to root out corruption wherever it exists because we know it is not in the best interests of a democracy. The President speaks -- the United States President, Joe Biden, speaks a lot about this. And actually, President Giammattei and I spoke about that today.
If we are truly to have and fight for democracies, especially in a world where increasingly they are under attack, one essential ingredient of our priorities must be to fight corruption. It erodes the confidence that people have in their government and its leaders. It compromises the ability of any country to maximize its natural resources to help and support its citizenry.
On the issue of any corruption in -- on the issue of Guatemala, that has been one of our highest priorities, in terms of the focus that we have placed here after the President asked me to take on this issue of focusing on this region of the world.
And the work we are doing in furtherance then of that priority is the work of, again, creating an anti-corruption task force, bringing a renewed effort on behalf of the United States Department of Justice, the United States Treasury Department, the United States State Department to work collaboratively to identify, to support investigations, and ultimately, to support prosecutions and consequences for those who would endeavor to engage in corrupt behaviors.
Furthermore, in bringing together the CEOs -- that we have been doing in the United States -- and convening them -- they've made very clear that when it comes to the private sector, be it there or I might venture to say "here or anywhere around the world," they want to know if they're going to put their hard-earned resources into any issue or initiative that it will go to its intended beneficiary. And that means going to the people who need that support -- and not corrupt hands.
There are many reasons why this is one of our highest priorities, which I think the people of Guatemala know well and the people of the United States understand well. If we are to be effective, if we are to be true to our principles, we must root out corruption wherever it exists. And that is one of our highest priorities for that reason.
On the issue of Republicans' political attacks or criticism or even concerns: The reason I am here in Guatemala, as my first trip as Vice President of the United States, is because this is one of our highest priorities, and I came here to be here on the ground, to speak with the leader of this nation around what we can do in a way that is significant, is tangible, and has real results. And I will continue to be focused on that kind of work, as opposed to grand gestures.