TRANSCRIPT*: INTERVIEW WITH THE PRESIDENT OF HONDURAS, JUAN ORLANDO HERNÁNDEZ
Interviewer: José Díaz-Balart
Place: Washington D.C.
Date: July 25, 2014 (8:15AM ET)
Language: Original interview conducted in Spanish
José Díaz-Balart (JDB): Good morning. We have a very special guest this morning: the President of Honduras. Juan Orlando Hernández. Mr. President, it’s an honor having you on “Un Nuevo Día.”
Juan Orlando Hernández (JH): Thank you for inviting me.
JDB: Mr. President, today you’re meeting with your American counterpart and the other two Central American Presidents who have come to Washington. What specifically are you going to cover, and what do you expect to get out of today’s meeting?
JH: The Presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador and I, the President of Honduras, and our teams, have been working on addressing the sudden rise in the number of people migrating towards the United States, particularly children. We want Washington to acknowledge that drug violence and the lack of opportunities and economic growth in Honduras represent a high cost and a huge risk for the U.S., whereas peace and economic growth in Central America and Honduras would be a great investment for the U.S. That’s why we want to debate the issue of how to solve the problem regarding the children, firstly, and, also how to get to the root of the problem.
JDB: It’s something that needs to be discussed. If we don’t get to the root of the problem, it will continue. Let’s talk about the wave of children. There’s been a huge increase in the number of children arriving in this country without their parents since October. The White House has said that they are considering a pilot plan that would allow the U.S. to establish some kind of way for these children to apply for entry to the U.S. as refugees while still in Honduras, without having to go through that horrific journey to this country.
JH: That’s something we’re all hoping for. I’d like to address that, but only if it becomes an official and definite plan.
JDB: Has anyone from the White House spoken to you or given you any details?
JH: No. They haven’t.
JDB: Nothing at all?
JH: Nothing. I actually want to go ahead and say that one of the reasons why “coyotes” have unscrupulously taken advantage of the human need that people have to reunite with their families is because immigration policies are unclear and ambiguous. Also, the immigration reform debate has led to many points of view, allowing “coyotes”, in one way or another, to misinform people by telling them: “I can take you to the U.S. If you go with your child, you won’t be turned away.” But we know that’s not true. We also know that the child’s best interest should be the priority if their parents are in the U.S. I want to tell the American people that the children coming from Central America are not criminals. They’re human beings… who have the innate desire to reunite with their parents. You are parents yourselves. You know what it feels like to be with your children. That’s why I want there to be a difference. Besides, it’s a matter of human rights.
JDB: Mr. President, your country also has the responsibility to care for these kids and to create the necessary conditions so that parents won’t feel like it’s ever worth putting their child’s life at risk in getting them out of Honduras, Guatemala or El Salvador.
JH: And we have taken on the responsibility, but your country, the U.S., is the largest consumer of drugs. What happened is that you all succeeded in separating drug-related violence from its consumption… For many public officials here, the problem is a health issue. But for us in Central America, it’s a matter of life or death.
JDB: Mr. President…
JH: It originates in the south, not in Central America, and then it’s consumed in the north. We’re just on the way. I’m going to say it again because everyone should understand… Drug trafficking is an important side to this great monster. Another side to it is human trafficking and the trafficking of weapons from the U.S. to Latin America. The other side is the dollars that come back in. That monster has a foot in U.S. jurisdiction and another in Central America. We’re all responsible. Let’s admit it.
JDB: We’ll have more time to continue this conversation with you later on, Mr. President. Thank you very much for allowing us the privilege of your time.
JH: Thank you.
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