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Mission Accomplished? Scoring Newsom’s Trip To El Salvador

 April 11, 2019 at 11:41 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 Governor Gavin Newsome told reporters he traveled to El Salvador earlier this week to get a firsthand look at the problems forcing migrants to seek asylum in the U S Speaker 2: 00:10 I can't sit back passively any longer as an American citizen and listen to the president of United States tried to describe the northern triangle, tried to describe what's going on here and not only in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. I can't sit back passively as some of the largest news organizations referred to the Central American countries is the three other Mexico's, I can't do it, Speaker 1: 00:35 but other supporters and critics have offered different reasons for his visit ranging from moral leadership to political ambition. Now that Newsome is back in California. It gives us an opportunity to assess the governor's field trip and joining us for that assessment is a reporter who traveled with him in El Salvador. Elizabeth Agon. Lira is health and welfare reporter with cow matters. Elizabeth, welcome to the program. Speaker 3: 01:00 Thank you for having me. Maureen, Speaker 1: 01:02 did the governor actually get a firsthand look at some of the problems plaguing El Salvador? Speaker 3: 01:07 Yeah, he definitely got to hear firsthand from people who have experienced a deep poverty and the intense gang violence that people say are the reasons why they're coming. We didn't travel into some of the poorest neighborhoods where the gang violence is considered to be the worst, but he did speak to people from those neighborhoods. You came to meet him. He met with some folks who had joined one of the caravans trying to get to the United States. They were on the road for about a month before they were detained in Mexico and then deported back to El Salvador. Uh, he also had a very interesting meeting with people working in again, gang intervention in the neighborhoods and in prisons where many gang members are serving time. Speaker 1: 01:46 What were some of the other highlights of the trip? Speaker 3: 01:48 You've definitely, mason met with President Salvador Sanchez sudden and he also met with us last energy means and while those meetings were privates, he did say afterwards that in both of those the discussion was centered around the funding. The U S is going to be cutting off to El Salvador and the other northern triangle countries. And they really were concerned because they save that funding is helping keep kids off the street and creating economic opportunities for them. And you also met privately with the president elect naive. Okay. Lay who after the meetings that he's looking forward to working with seven or on bringing investment to the country's beaches and also helping to bring jobs overall. I would have to point out the governor Newsom would also say that the highlights for him, we're also in meeting the regular people like the migrants that we talked about, the gang intervention workers and he also met with humanitarian advocates who talked with him about women's rights and LGBT rights and just general civil rights that they're very concerned about and hope that he may be able to influence, uh, because they see him as a very progressive governor here in the United States. Speaker 1: 02:50 Well, speaking about that, back home Republicans in California and on Fox News, we're relentless in their criticism of this visit. Can you give us a sample of that reaction? Speaker 3: 03:00 The criticism ranged from people saying that there are enough problems here in California for him to deal with. And he posted a video of himself, uh, speaking from El Salvador about his trip on Twitter and the feedback, the messages he received backward about homelessness and water issues and lack of housing and all of these problems that are taking place in California that he is also thinking about. Some people were saying he should be focused here. Other critics were saying that he was using the term to get attention for his own political career, possibly with an eye in the future towards the presidential election. Uh, you know, we asked him those questions and he said that the three day trip was just a small portion of his time in office and that it was valuable for him to understand El Salvador in a way that no other governor has in the past because of the growing population here in California. And so that would be able to help people here working on those same issues like economic development, gang intervention, and also just he kept saying, you know, being from the most diverse state, the most populous date, the biggest economy that those were things he really needed to see for himself and he didn't entertain the political question that he's committed to California and he took the tip trip for that reason. Speaker 1: 04:08 From your reporting, Elizabeth, what do you think might actually result from nuisance trip to El Salvador? Speaker 3: 04:14 You know, he committed to trying to get investors, got El Salvador. He talked about his own network in the bay area who may have no idea about the potential there. Hospitality Hotels, the beach area surfing was something that came up. There was a short meeting that he had that had gotten a lot of attention. That was about the Surfline. It's apparently some of the best surfing in the world is in El Salvador and there are businesses and business owners there who are working to get more attention and bring more tourists and that was something he thought the state of California could contribute to. Maybe offering some advice from the tourism arm which is called visit California on how brand themselves or how to market their beaches and then he said, you know, again the knowledge he received there is going to help him understand community issues here as well of understand there. Speaker 1: 04:59 So the idea is this trip gave the governor really good idea of an overview of what El Salvador is about right now. Speaker 3: 05:08 It did and he made a point to share at the end of the trip that he really had an eye opening experience because while we hear about the caravans and the migrants coming for reasons of you know, poverty and gang violence, that there is also a thriving business community and I'll Salvador that is looking for some advice and some assistance, not handouts as the president elect pointed out, but some partnership that there are lots of business owners there who met with the governor who said they really want to help poor communities and help the young people get jobs and how do they do that. I think he was very pleased to see that there is this groundswell of people in El Salvador also working on these issues that he got to meet, and also to recognize that there are tourists coming there and there are Americans and other people from around the world, and that is a place that people may want to go Speaker 1: 05:58 to. I've been speaking with Elizabeth Aggie Leora from cal matters and Elizabeth, thank you. Thank you.

As Gov. Gavin Newsom concludes a three-day trip here, he said he’s coming away with a different impression than the one he originally held about the tiny Central American country.