Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado on Monday called to broaden the response to the “fever” of unauthorized migration to the United States beyond the so-called Northern Triangle of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
“I would like to question that as an idea, conceptually, you are only thinking about the Northern Triangle,” he said during a videoconference organized by the Atlantic Council think tank based in Washington.
The Northern Triangle, the origin of most of the undocumented people who have reached the southern border of the United States in recent years, has concentrated Washington’s efforts to curb the migratory flow.
Determined to address the root causes of the exodus north, the US government of Joe Biden has just appointed the experienced diplomat Ricardo Zúñiga as special envoy for the Northern Triangle.
But Alvarado stressed the need to adopt a vision for the entire Central American region, in the spirit that gave birth to the Free Trade Agreement between the United States, Central America and the Dominican Republic (CAFTA-DR in English) in 2004.
“The strategy of the United States at that time was to ensure more democracy, more economic flows. So I think there are lessons that we can draw from that strategy for what is happening now in the region,” he said.
Just as “it would not make sense to have only a trade agreement with the Northern Triangle,” the region needs “a more comprehensive policy” to address issues of socioeconomic development, poverty, climate change and other issues, Alvarado argued.
The president, who was minister of Labor and Human Development before becoming president, also stressed that the migratory flow to the United States is not limited to the three countries that make up the Northern Triangle.
For him, migration is like “the fever that the body has when it has another problem” and all of Central America, from Panama to Guatemala, has been “a thermometer of that fever.”
Every time there is a conflict somewhere, “we can see how people from various countries of the world cross our territories on foot in search of reaching the United States,” he said, mentioning migrants from Cuba, Haiti, Congo and Pakistan.