By Caribbean News Now contributor
WASHINGTON, USA – Thousands of citizens from Central America’s Northern Triangle – El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras sought asylum at the Mexican-US border due to hunger and violence in their home countries. In response, President Donald Trump announced Monday to divert hundreds of millions of dollars in aid. Spending bills totalling some $370 million for fiscal 2018 and an additional $180 million approved by Congress for fiscal 2017 will be suspended.
In December 2018, the US State Department committed $5.8 billion through public and private investment to promote institutional reforms and development in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. [According to AP News Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard had previously suggested that about $25 billion in US investment would be an appropriate figure for what Mexicans and Central Americans have dubbed “The Alliance for Prosperity” in the region.]
Until the Trump administration is satisfied that the immigration policies of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras are addressed, funds will not resume. This upsets bipartisan support of a long-standing pillar of American foreign policy until the number of migrants reaching the US border is reduced.
In the same vein after increased tariffs on Mexican goods to the US were threatened, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of Mexico announced that it would stop financial aid for anti-human trafficking organisations as part of its arrangement with the United States to stem the flow of mainly Central American migrants and asylum seekers.
Critics argue that cutting off aid to countries that contend with biting poverty, hunger, unemployment, violence and crime would be counterproductive, resulting in a possible increase in migrants.
This week alone a truck caravan was intercepted carrying hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers charging between $3,500 to $5,000 per person estimating a value of more than $3.5 million. “Commissions” or bribes are traditionally paid to ensure the migrant’s free passage in this case totalling anywhere between $500,000 to $800,000 implicating US authorities at Mexico’s northern border with the United States.
US Congress, under the Obama administration, approved a $750 million appropriations bill to assist with security efforts and gang violence in Central America’s Northern Triangle.
The completion of the deployment of some 6,000 Mexican National Guard members to its southern border will be completed this week according to foreign affairs secretary Marcelo Ebrard. The National Guard targets human smugglers.