Presidents Call for US to Invest in CentAm Version of ‘Plan Colombia’

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The presidents of Guatemala and Honduras have used the Central American child migrant crisis to call for regional security investment from the United States along the lines of “Plan Colombia,” but as yet there have been few signs of US interest in such a plan.

At a forum in Washington DC on July 24, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez and Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina stated that the United States is partly to blame for the current migration crisis, which has seen over 50,000 Central American children cross the US border illegally in recent months, and asked for a regional security initiative to combat organized crime, reported NPR.

Hernandez said Plan Colombia and Mexico’s Merida Initiative — billion-dollar US funded security programs to combat organized crime — have been successful in their target areas, but pushed drug trafficking groups into Central America, reported Prensa Libre. Both presidents called for a similar program to be implemented in Central America, adding that the impact of the US funded Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) has been minimal.  

Hernandez and Perez both stated that violence and poverty are behind the recent flood of unaccompanied child migrants across the US border, a problem they are scheduled to discuss with the US and El Salvadoran presidents today.

InSight Crime Analysis

While Hernandez and Perez are trying to use the child migrant crisis as leverage to gain an increase in foreign aid, the US government’s response has shown its priorities lie elsewhere.

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama requested $3.7 billion from Congress in emergency funding to deal with the migration crisis, of which $1.5 billion was slated for the Department of Homeland Security — which oversees border security — compared to $300 million for programs in Central America and Mexico.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Plan Colombia

Meanwhile, CARSI has cost the US government only $642 million over the past six years, compared to an estimated $90 billion spent on border security between 2001 and 2011.

The US government has also invested billions in aid for Colombia, and more recently Mexico. However, the success of these plans within the countries is not as clear cut as their backers claim. In addition, it will take a lot more than increased investment to tackle deep rooted issues that have helped organized crime take hold in the region, such as poverty and lack of opportunities and official corruption.  

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