The Government of the United States Tuesday announced amid the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles a series of measures consisting of basically funding initiatives in Central America to tackle the root causes behind migration.
The hosting nation thus hoped to remove the spotlight from the continental event, following the decision of heads of state from Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and Bolivia not to attend after Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba were not invited over for their dictatorial regimes.
The president of Uruguay is also skipping the gathering, albeit for other reasons: he tested positive for covid-19.
US Vice President Kamala Harris has been leading the initiative, which included meetings with business leaders late Monday ahead of announcing US$ 1.9 billion in new private projects to curb migration.
The funding will go to Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador for new investments by some ten companies, among which are the textile giant GAP and the telecommunications giant Millicom, it was reported.
The migratory flow from Central America is taking a political toll on President Joseph Biden's administration and could cause it to lose control of Congress in the November mid-term elections.
Biden is scheduled to kick off the most intense days of the summit, so far focused on civil society, with a speech during which he will announce a partnership with Latin America for economic prosperity, amid a post-pandemic recovery, to revitalize regional economic institutions and mobilize investment.
The head of state will also propose an ambitious reform of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to better address the region's development challenge because the private sector has a central role, according to White House sources.
The United States will seek an equity stake in the IDB to invest in the private sector lending arm and direct it to where it will have the greatest impact, the sources also explained.
Biden will also announce over US$ 300 million in food insecurity assistance for the region, against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, which has caused the prices of some of the products in the family food basket to skyrocket.
Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador are strategic US partners in the migration issue. Harris' announcement Tuesday follows US$ 1.2 billion pledged to similar ends in December from clothing company GAP and auto parts maker Yazaki.
Digital service firm COATL is investing $35 million to expand high-speed internet access in El Salvador, while Millicom is launching a $700 million expansion and maintenance program for its network in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.
“Taken together, these investments are creating an ecosystem of opportunity and helping to provide hope for people in the region to build safe and prosperous lives at home,” the White House said in a statement.
Tuesday’s announcement also includes a separate private-sector program to “empower, train and protect women in Central America,” the White House said.
Meanwhile, the US Agency for International Development is launching a program to prevent sexual, gender-based and domestic violence. USAID is also allocating US$ 50 million to pay young people in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras for community service work, and to provide them with mentoring opportunities and a path to a job.
The Los Angeles summit, which will conclude on Friday, will adopt five documents on key areas: democratic governance, health and resilience, climate change and environmental sustainability, transition to clean energy, and digital transformation.
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