SALT LAKE CITY — Utah was on the world stage in Guatemala Thursday, when Utah Senator Mike Lee gave the keynote speech at the Guatemalan National Prayer Breakfast.
“I was invited several months ago by the Ambassador from Guatemala to the U.S., Manuel Espina,” Senator Lee told KSL Newsradio’s Boyd Matheson.
“I shared the podium with Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales who I’ve gotten to know over the past few years, and who has become a good friend,” Lee said.
Senator Lee said he delivered the speech in Spanish, which he learned as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “I find it to be a beautiful language, it’s a language that’s much better for expressing things of the heart, things of the soul, spiritual things.”
During his keynote address, Lee says he spoke about the importance of prayer and what it can do to create unity in society. “I was asked to focus on unity by ambassador Espina and other organizers. They’ve gone through some difficult days in Guatemala, politically and otherwise,” Lee said.
Later on Thursday, Guatemala’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal made it official that Alejandro Giammattei will be the country’s next president. This, after the results of the August 11 runoff were certified, giving Giammattei the victory.
It is unclear whether an agreement signed by the outgoing president, Jimmy Morales, will remain intact.
Referred to as a “safe third country” agreement, it applies to citizens from Honduras and El Salvador. It requires migrants to apply for asylum in Guatemala before attempting to immigrate to the United States.
Lee is a big supporter of a safe third country agreement. “What this is going to do to is to allow Guatemala to play a key role in discouraging the human rights abuses that take place as a result of these caravans,” Lee said. “Caravans coming up from Central America have come about as a result of a shameless series of abuses of US asylum laws.”
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