The United States Government continues its efforts to curb Central American migration. Vice President Kamala Harris, who was tasked with managing the crisis on the southern border by President Joe Biden since March, announced new private equity investments in the northern triangle on Monday afternoon. These represent about 450 million dollars that will be contributed by companies such as Microsoft, Cargill, PepsiCo, among others in Guatemala and Honduras, mainly. “It’s good and important work, and I think it reflects well the best of us as Americans, recognizing our responsibility as neighbors to these countries,” Harris said in a meeting in Washington with a group of CEOs.
The White House intends with the announcement to redouble its commitment to combat the root causes that have forced tens of thousands of Central Americans to leave their countries. These are the poverty, violence and democratic instability that exist in the nations of the region. “Six months ago we had a commitment of 750 million dollars. Now we have a commitment of 1.2 billion, “said Harris. The increase in investments also coincides with the growth of the migratory flow. 2021 has broken all records for crosses to the United States. The authorities reported a few weeks ago the detention of 1.7 million undocumented immigrants between October 2020 and October this year. This has caused an internal crisis in the Biden Administration and analysts believe that the efforts of the Democratic leadership in Washington will take time to bear fruit, if there is any.
“The people of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras … are not different from the people of other countries. When they leave their homes they do not do so because they want to, they flee due to some type of damage or because they simply cannot meet the basic needs of themselves or their families, ”said the vice president. PepsiCo, for example, will invest in its plants in the region, from now until 2025, 190 million dollars and will expand its distribution routes. Cargill, the multinational agricultural giant, will inject 150 million throughout the five-year period to support 19,000 peasants in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. The Parkdale Mills textile company has committed a similar sum to build a cotton plant in Honduras to supply raw materials to its factories in Virginia that supply the US market. And Peet’s, a coffee company, will increase its financial support to coffee growers in the area by 40%.
Latin American companies have also come to the call made by the White House. The Guatemalan Grupo Mariposa, a soft drink company that has been operating since the mid-19th century, will give 70,000 neighborhood stores access to soft loans. The Mexican Softtek, based in Monterrey (Mexico), was also part of the dialogue with the vice president. The Price Smart chain of stores, which has a presence in six Central American countries, will also invest in the development of small and medium-sized companies that can help create jobs. In June, the US humanitarian aid agency pledged $ 56 million to train Guatemalan entrepreneurs.
Microsoft will develop the technology skills of 100,000 people in the region so they can get better-paying jobs and said it will work to expand Internet access to four million people. Mastercard will invest $ 100 million to formally incorporate five million people in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras into the financial system and to open the doors to online banking for micro-businesses.
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In addition to financial investments, Washington is also concerned about the region’s democratic and institutional stability. Harris has also referred, in addition to his fight to stop illegal migration, the fight against corruption in the nations of the northern triangle. She was one of the first leaders to congratulate Xiomara Castro after her triumph in the Honduran presidential elections at the end of November. The candidate won at the polls with an anti-corruption agenda and will take office on January 27. This Monday, while the vice president was interviewing businessmen, the Undersecretary of State, Urza Zeya, landed in Tegucigalpa as a sign of the White House’s support for the new administration. “The government hopes to partner with Castro to promote common interests: the fight against corruption and improving the rule of law in Honduras will maintain a healthy democracy and create the conditions for Hondurans to build a future at home,” Zeya said in Spanish.
Present at the Washington meeting were: Sherry Bahrambeygui, PriceSmart; Guillame Le Cunff, from Nespresso; David Maclennan of Cargill; Juan Pablo Mata, from Grupo Mariposa; Michelle Nunn from Care International, Fabien Simon from Peet’s Coffee Company; Blanca Treviño, from the Mexican company Softtek, Anderson Warlick, from the Parkdale Mills textile company. The teleconference was also attended by Paula Santilli from PepsiCo for Latin America and Brad Smith, president of Micrsoft.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.