Clinton and Latin Leaders Turn to Immigration
By JOHN M. BRODER
Guatemala -- President Clinton and a group of Central American leaders
Thursday that they would work among themselves and with the United States to reach
"humane and permanent solutions" to the problems of illegal immigration.
was issued at a one-day meeting here that focused on reconstruction after
devastating autumn hurricane, development, trade and immigration.
The leaders also
promised to accelerate efforts to assist one another in the economic and
transformation of the region after decades of strife and catastrophic natural disasters.
at the end of a four-day visit by Clinton to the subcontinent, brought
Presidents Arnoldo Aleman of Nicaragua, Alvaro Arzu of Guatemala, Armando Calderon Sol of El
Salvador, Leonel Fernandez Reyna of the Dominican Republic, Carlos Roberto Flores of Honduras
and Miguel Angel Rodriguez Echeverria of Costa Rica, as well as Prime Minister Said Wilbert Musa
They met at the
Casa Santo Domingo, a hotel built around the ruins of a church and monastery
by Dominicans in the 16th century and largely destroyed by earthquakes in 1717 and 1773. This
picturesque colonial town, in a valley formed by three volcanoes, was the capital of all of Central
America until the 18th century.
At the opening
of the session, Clinton noted that he was the first American president
Guatemala since Lyndon B. Johnson stopped briefly at the Guatemala City airport in the '60s. "This
visit is long overdue," Clinton said. "More importantly, this moment in history is long overdue."
announced four small initiatives to foster growth and reconciliation. The
administration will provide $25 million to bolster the Guatemalan peace accord of 1996, including
money for schools, small-business development, courts and local governments.
also plans to grant $25 million for environmental protection throughout
$11 million for disaster response and $8.2 million to eliminate child labor.
The meeting was
marred by Clinton's inability to deliver a much larger package of hurricane
totaling $956 million, that has been held up by a dispute with Congress.
leaders and a few protesters in El Salvador and Guatemala complained that
immigration policy discriminated against some political refugees from the region.
told Clinton on Wednesday that he did not feel that U.S. policy was justified,
refugees from El Salvador and Guatemala did not have the same rights to settle in the United States
as those from Cuba and Nicaragua.
The United States
is preparing to deport 1,000 Salvadorans who fled the devastation of Hurricane
Mitch, while Washington seeks a way to let El Salvadoran political refugees remain in the United