The stagnation of Central America is driving immigrants

Joachim Avilas comes from a town called Daz El Progreso – progress – but for him it was nothing. Unemployment pushed him away from Honduras in 2019, it is bound to the United States. “I haven’t had a job in years,” he explained, still stuck on the Mexican side of the border two years later.

The plight of people like Evils has only gained a reputation for poverty and misery in Central America. He comes from the edge of a “dry corridor” where violence, poverty and extortion have led to drought. Thousands of frustrated families From the so-called northern triangle of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador to try to enter the United States via Mexico.

Unauthorized border crossings from Mexico to the United States have risen to a 20-year high this year. This has created a serious political problem for President Joe Biden, who has called on Vice President Kamala Harris to address the crisis and allocate ৪ 4 billion in aid to the North Triangle. It is not clear how it will be spent.

“We want to help people sit at home and instill hope,” he said at a regional conference this month, because the United States was less focused on such interventions under Donald Trump’s leadership, and more on economic development. “And so we’re focused on tackling both acute causes and the root causes of immigration.”

Since the end of the Central American Civil War in the 1960s, economic growth in the region has consistently lagged behind that of the rest of Latin America. According to the IMF, the average GDP per capita in the Northern Triangle has averaged 1.2 percent over the past 30 years.

A 2004 free trade agreement with the United States was aimed at increasing access to North America’s major markets and boosting trade with an agreement reached with the European Union in 2012. Between 1991 and 2007, exports from Central America increased by an average of only one mod percentage per year.

But when Costa Rica And while Panama, the region’s two outperformers, has improved behind eco-tourism and financial services, respectively, profits in the Northern Triangle and Nicaragua have proved elusive.

Central America Kafta has not been able to move forward, ”said Laura Chinchilla, who was involved in negotiations for a Dominican Republic-Central America-US Free Trade Agreement and later signed as Costa Rican president. Regional EU trade agreement.

“For Costa Rica, kafta is a qualitative leap in attracting money and attracting investment. But no NicaraguaHonduras, Savior And Guatemala. ”

According to the World Bank, these four countries make up the majority of the region’s population and more than half of its GDP, but the four countries with the lowest incomes. They are ashamed of corruption, impunity, gang rape and weak rule of law. Experts say their government has invested far less in education and infrastructure.

Guatemala City residents are provided ue for lunch packs provided by the government
Guatemala City residents receive ue Jose Decavele / Getty for government-provided lunch packs

“Governments in the region are not creating opportunities for people to prosper because they simply do not have development plans,” said Ricardo Castenida, a senior economist at the Central American Institute for Physical Studies.

Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online. Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online.

“Kafta-DR did not work as intended for various reasons: it was seen. . . As a way to guarantee access to the U.S. market rather than consolidating among themselves; It did not effectively mix with Nafta. . . And during the negotiations, the United States banned the import of many products where the region was highly competitive, “said Eric Farnworth, vice president of the American Council.

In fact, the United States seems to have benefited far more than the Northern Triangle: U.S. exports to Guatemala rose 140 percent to their pre-cafta level in 1999, while Guatemala’s exports to the U.S. rose only 2 percent during this period, according to U.S. official data. By The increase in US exports to Guatemala was three times higher than Guatemala’s exports to the United States.

High exports brought employment, but most of the jobs were low productivity and low wages and were there Not enough to get around: According to the United Nations, more than 250,000 young people in the region each year seek employment in just 250,000 new formal sector jobs.

List showing Kaftar's influence on the North Triangle business

As a result, “instead of being successful and exporting goods and services like Costa Rica, these countries have exported their citizens,” Chinchilla said.

“Since 2009, the population of the Northern Triangle has grown by about 1 percent and gone every year,” Ricardo Jaiga, Biden’s special envoy for the Northern Triangle, told the recent American Council. Web Seminar. “We have absolutely no chance of being able to address that. . . This is a long-term problem unless we create jobs in Central America.

However, the World Bank has warned that the working age population in Central America will decline rapidly by 2035. New report To ensure strong growth, countries need to increase productivity and integrate into North America’s supply chain.

For many companies in the region, this is a long order. Most are without the ability to compete in micro or small businesses. “They’re like a Formula One race but on a bike without both wheels,” Castenida said.

Poor governance is another problem. Another place in the North Triangle that avoided Honduras on a recent trip is a sign. President Juan Orlando HernandezPedro Barchiro, head of the Curtis at the Honduran Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said he was “a leper” named by US prosecutors after US prosecutors named him as an accomplice to drug trafficking. Hernandez has denied the allegations.

US Special Envoy for the North Triangle Ricardo Jaiga
Ricardo Jaiga, the US special envoy for the North Triangle, says job creation in Central America is the only way to solve the problem – Juan Carlos / Bloomberg

In El Salvador, Jaiga was fielded by President Naib Buccane, who was criticized for being too authoritarian.

“In reality, free trade agreements cannot do any good if countries do not work,” Barkero said. Its image as a place to do business.

Biden hopes to tackle the causes of immigration, including a 4 billion aid package from Central America, but that requires a long-term commitment from Washington, and if success comes, it will take many years.

“The reality is that Americans have had some success in building countries in Latin America or elsewhere, but at least something has happened,” said Michael Shifter, president of Washington’s Inter-American Dialogue. “It’s important to ask an uncomfortable question: Where have the Americans succeeded in what they’re trying to do in Central America today?”

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