The US government is allocating US $ 310 million of additional economic aid to Guatemala and other Central American countries. By using us money to help victims of drought, hurricanes and other disasters in their own country, the US government hopes to put a dam against the flow of migrants from Central America.
To this end, US vice-president Kamala Harris, tasked last month by Joe Biden with combating the causes of migration from Central America, made agreements with Guatemala’s president Alejandro Giammattei to train border security personnel and to set up reception for returned migrants in their own country.
Harris has yet to establish similar cooperation with other countries of origin such as Honduras and El Salvador. This includes both help with acute causes of migration, such as natural disasters, and more structural problems such as corruption in the public authorities and lack of economic opportunities in those countries. These problems are more difficult to deal with.
A series of hurricanes, droughts and the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis are rapidly increasing the number of people living at or below the poverty line in the countries of this so-called ‘Northern Triangle’. According to the United Nations World Food Programme, 7.8 million people in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are now suffering from hunger.
Biden’s predecessor, Trump, literally wanted to build a wall against the flow of migrants, but Biden claims to support a more humane policy. Immediately after his election, large numbers of hopeful people from South and Central American countries came to this. In particular, the number of unaccompanied children is increasing: according to the Mexican government, more than 18,000 children were on their way to the US in March without parents or escorts.
‘We want to work with you (…) in a way that brings hope to the people of Guatemala, that they have opportunities if they stay at home,’ Harris said in her conversation with Giammattei on Monday. This week Harris continues to talk to organizations in Guatemala about the cooperation. The US refused Guatemala’s request for help with COVID vaccines.